Yesterday it was quite late for lunch (3pm) but I did an attempt to check if I could eat at Mangiari di strada in Milan.
They were already taking away the food so I was ready to turn back and skip the lunch altogether when Giuseppe noticed my presence and invited me to join him and his friends for a late lunch.
I felt a bit of discomfort as it was about being a guest instead of a customer and I never had met the other people before.
Well it was good to resist the temptation to leave.
Giuseppe prepared for us his interpretation of the spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (detail of preparation later in the post) and black bread with butter and salted anchovies.
Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino is a common last-minute disk in Italy and for a reason: the everyday version is about getting garlic and chili pepper to fry in olive oil and then use the oil to dress the spaghetti.
Giuseppe could not go for something that easy and did his interpretation of this classic:
1) instead of getting the garlic in boiling oil he had the oil in the oven at 70 celsius during the night with the garlic inside to get the flavor without altering the natural taste of the oil with the high temperature.
2) he added a second layer of garlic by making a cream with garlic and milk (with a different garlic than the one used for the oil)
3) the chili pepper was added as a paprika-like powder made with his own peppers
All the rest is the chef secret.
Giuseppe’s version tasted better and more complex than the classical one and I had no garlic taste in my mouth in the afternoon.
Sure it’s not a last-minute preparation anymore but I’ll take his interpretation over the traditional any time if I’m offered the option.
The butter and the anchovies were not the average run of the mill either:
the butter had a clear taste of the grass like in the best cheeses and the anchovies maintained the taste of the fresh fish that usually is completely missing in the salted version that are commonly available.