The unbearable lightness of simplicity
20 Jul 2012
One of Italy’s most highly esteemed chefs, Fulvio Pierangelini, and his restaurant (closed down in summer 2008) Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo, Tuscany, have been a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine for many years. Behind the apparent simplicity of his cooking lies the experience and sensitivity of a brilliant soloist who can produce sublime dishes, many of which have been endlessly copied. Fulvio will be the protagonist of the Theater of Taste titled: Dishes That Made History: Fulvio Pierangelini’s Chickpea Puree with Shrimp, a recipe which we present here accompanied by an excerpt from Cronache golose, vite e storie di cuochi italiani (Tasty Chronicles, Lives and Stories of Italian Chefs), published by Slow Food Editore, where Marco Bolasco and Marco Tabucco trace the history of the best Italian restaurants.
Reaching San Vincenzo was exciting and moving. All it took was a glimpse of the framed slice of sea which appeared in front of you coming from the Nord Aurelia road before turning onto the Viale Marconi promenade. But the excitement also came from being in a magical and slightly intimidating place: a mix between the charm of the chef and his terrible personality, the lights on the sea and that carefully furnished room. Perfect details, from the flowers to Emanuela’s porcelains, completed the distinct feeling of being in a unique place, a sort of box of wonders where you would enter – if you ever managed to get in, as the chef was renowned for refusing the bookings of unwelcome or simply suspicious guests – and experience two unforgettable hours. No other restaurant compared. It was Gambero Rosso by Fulvio Pierangelini.
The restaurant has been closed for three years now. On tiptoes – after some toing and froing – Fulvio closed down in summer 2008 leaving everyone high and dry. Now, when you get to San Vincenzo, there is no promenade left: it has been destroyed by the marina renovation works. An era has truly come to en end. The sign is still there, a few steps away from the original restaurant, and hangs above Emanuela’s small and refined restaurant. Il Bucaniere di Fulvietto is also nearby – the name is Emanuela and Fulvio’s son’s. The place, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, a long-time family friend, is a bathing establishment during the day and a beautiful restaurant at night.
But let’s go back to the late Gambero Rosso, which opened on March 8th 1980: it started as a trattoria on the beach, a small place with checkered tablecloths named after the place where Pinocchio met the Fox and the Cat. A very widespread and abused name among Italian restaurants, but one rule applies for those who believe in superstitions: you don’t change the name of restaurants – or boats. The place was inexpensive and Fulvio, a self-taught cook, cooked simple dished which unmistakably showed his sensitivity and eagerness. «Appetizers were partly displayed on a buffet table and partly served at the table without ordering them. They immediately made the restaurant a success. Fulvio’s wonderful dishes left many guests speechless, like the scrumptious seafood salad: chunks of lobster, sea bass and shellfish, seasoned with nothing more than extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Or scallops with potato strings, and spaghetti baked in foil. These recipes had nothing to do with those which go by the same name and are served elsewhere. In San Vincenzo, a petty bourgeois touristic town, where cheap half board hotels served spaghetti with frozen clams, a silent revolution was taking place»…
Chickpea Puree with Shrimp
Serves 4 people
100 g dried chickpeas
800 g shrimp
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed
1 sprig of rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, black pepper
Soak the chickpeas for 12 hours, then drain, wash and cook them for 40 minutes in plenty of salted water with the rosemary and garlic. Once cooked and soft, drain the chickpeas and use a spoon to push them through sieve into a bowl.
Slowly add some olive oil while blending using a hand-held blender until a smooth and soft cream is obtained. Shell and clean the shrimps and steam them until just cooked through. Serve the chickpea puree in the bottom of a soup dish topped with a few shrimp, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
Choosing good, clean and fair shrimp
Many shrimp (Black tiger shrimp, tiger prawn, white shrimp) readily available in supermarkets worldwide are farmed in tropical waters and should be avoided. Shrimp farming is responsible for the destruction of mangrove forests with great environmental, social and cultural repercussions. When it comes to wild-fished shrimp, shrimp trawling has the highest rate of by-catch of any other commercial fishing technique.
Choose sustainable wild-caught shrimp or organically farmed shrimp available in your region.
Visit the Slow Fish website for more tips and resources.
Blog & news
Change the world through food
Learn how you can restore ecosystems, communities and your own health with our RegenerAction Toolkit.