Jeddah foodies are having their appetites whetted at the second edition of Italian Cuisine Week from Nov. 22-26. It is an opportunity for Saudis to learn about authentic Italian food beyond familiar dishes such as pizza and spaghetti.
It has been organized by the Consulate General of Italy, and sponsored by elite Italian restaurants in Jeddah and many well-known food brands, hotels and entities, including Manuel Supermarket.
Guests can taste modern dishes, buy authentic regional products and learn more about Italian culture.
Last year, the Consulate General of Italy hosted Chef Marco Martini from Rome, owner of The Corner restaurant, and in 2013 named the best emerging chef in Italy.
This year, Eleonora Galasso, a well-known social media figure in Italy, is the guest of honor. She appeared on a cooking show and is participating in the week’s activities.
“I’m not a chef, I call myself a food interpreter, because food is a language, and like any other language it needs to be decoded,” she told Arab News.
“I love to search for long-lost recipes and revive them in a new shape, but in a traditional form.”
Her book “As the Romans Do: Classic and Reinvented Recipes from Rome” is a showcase of her identity and authentic cooking.
“It’s a journey that gives you a view of the whole day, from breakfast until the aperitivo with dinner, which is a beverage consumed before a meal to stimulate the appetite,” Galasso said.
“I like to travel, and I must say that Saudi Arabia has a wonderful sense of hospitality,” she added.
“We share the same values and ethics in terms of appreciating families and being together. It’s very easy to find common ground, and I felt very welcomed here,” she said.
“It has been a great honor for me to represent my country in Italian Cuisine Week, which has been a fascinating adventure that I hope is just the beginning of a new conversation that our two countries can have together.”
As part of Italian Cuisine Week, there were two special events on Wednesday: A cooking show and an Italian movie night.
The show took place at Aromi Restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where the audience enjoyed a light meal while Galasso displayed easy-to-make Italian recipes.
The pop-up cinema combined Italian movies and gastronomy at Assila Hotel on Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Street.
There was a lively discussion between the chef and the audience about the movie that was shown.
Italian Consul General Elisabetta Martini told Arab News: “I’m very glad that our occasion achieved a huge response.”
She said: “Our event last year was also a great success, and had a wonderful response from young Jeddawis and many people who are interested in the business of food.”
Martini added: “Italian Cuisine Week was started by the foreign minister after our Expo 2015 in Milan. It’s dedicated to food, and we decided that we could promote the Italian food sector, from the ingredients to chefs, restaurants, hotels and importers.”
She said: “Promoting food means promoting products, but before that, of course, is promoting our culture.”