30 years of A tavola sulla spiaggia
The international food and wine competition recounted in a book presented on Sunday 26 June
For more than thirty years now, Gianni Mercatali has opened his office in Versilia in July and August, under the legendary awning of the Silvio bathhouse, where he continues his communication activities at a lighter pace, perhaps, but not one of rest. He could not otherwise manage an appointment such as A tavola sulla spiaggia, which he has organised on the 'noble sands' of Forte dei Marmi since 1993. The ingredients? Cuisine and 'gluttonous' worldliness. At the time he began that adventure, Gianni had two special friendships behind him with whom he shared a passion for food, the one with Gino Paoli and the one with Ugo Tognazzi, the creator of L'uomo in cucina, an event that in some ways inspired A tavola sulla spiaggia. That sense of joking friendship but governed by good taste and lively pleasure for shared food were the foundations of this food and wine competition that has become a regular August event, held between Bagno Roma di Levante and La Capannina di Franceschi thanks to the hospitality of Carla and Gherardo Guidi.
A story that celebrates its first 30 years, retraced by a book published by Gruppo Editoriale, entitled A tavola sulla spiaggia. The recipes of the great chefs and more... on sale in the best bookshops in Italy and online on the Gruppo Editoriale website, and will be presented on Sunday 26 June 2022 at 18h at the Capannina (invitation only).
The book opens with an affectionate recollection of Carlo Conti, mindful of having presented the first edition at the beginning of his career when, together with Giorgio Panariello, he was filming at the Bussola the legendary television programme Vernice Fresca that launched them into showbiz.
Gian Marco Tognazzi, on the other hand, recounts his father Ugo's passion for cooking - "a cook lent to the cinema" - and how this was the glue of tried-and-tested friendships, such as the one with Gianni Mercatali, and the driving force behind passions shared today by himself and his siblings Ricky and Maria Sole.
Still on the subject of Ugo Tognazzi, Davide Paolini - who began writing about food and wine in the very monthly magazine edited by Tognazzi himself, Nuova Cucina - sketches his profile as a refined performer and connoisseur of haute cuisine, with a wealth of details and unpublished anecdotes.
Gherardo Guidi, going back in his mind to the first time he heard the idea of what was to become a thirty-year-old gastronomic competition a year later, recalled the image that appeared to him then: "Wicker baskets, with porcelain equipment and silver cutlery that I had seen, under tents, in the early 1960s, on my first forays to the seaside".
And he was right, since the main reason why A tavola sulla spiaggia came into being was to pay homage to the typical Versilia tradition of taking food with you and dining on the beach at a time when kitchens were not available at bathing establishments.
A large chapter of the book is dedicated to the beach recipes of the great chefs: from Gianfranco Vissani's tomatoes, moscardini and cinnamon crisp to Davide Oldani's stracciatella di bufala with strawberry grape sorbet, from Gennaro Esposito's smoked palamita with 'nduja to Riccardo Monco's ricciola fillet... A total of 26 exclusive recipes, each paired with a great wine.
And finally, last but not least, the photos from the historical archive of A tavola sulla spiaggia that, from the first to the last page, recount this adventure born almost as a game that, after thirty years, is still an annual August rite of friendship, cuisine and conviviality shared between VIPs, starred chefs, vignerons, famous journalists and, of course, Versilia's bathers. In the meantime, the next edition is scheduled for Thursday 4 August with the prize-giving ceremony the following day, again at the Capannina.