Panettone: a dessert for all seasons
A 'provocation' by Davide Paolini gave rise to a custom that is now also a fashion for Ferragosto
It was Angelo Motta, some 100 years ago, who proposed the Christmas consumption of panettone for, even then, a precise marketing strategy. And so it has been for almost a century. It is 13 years since Davide Paolini, then known as the gastronaut, organised a 'mouth-watering' event in Milan in 2010: Panettone all year round. "Violation of tradition? Absolutely not,' says Davide Paolini. This is fake news because there is no religious or historical connection with Holy Christmas. It is an invention of tradition, which then became customary, like many such events theorised by historians E.Hobsbawn-T.Ranger".
But it was at the end of the last century when Paolini himself launched a sort of provocation by inviting master pastry chefs and artisan companies to produce panettone in all seasons. "An extravagance of mine? A profaned tradition? - Paolini continued. So many years ago my idea of launching panettone in summer was commented on. It has been a success ever since that first article of mine, on the front page, in the Sole 24 ore, at the end of the 1990s, and my Ferragosto tour in some beach establishments in Forte dei Marmi, Milano Marittima, Alassio, and in many restaurants and ice-cream parlours scattered around holiday Italy. So on the wings of this 'push' many have launched events, more or less original initiatives. "Sa va sans dire'. My real driving force was first and foremost the pleasure of enjoying panettone throughout the year at breakfast, at lunch with mortadella or spalla cotta, at night with a glass of rosé champagne. Pleasure but also mkt oriented idea because it prolongs the activity of pastry chefs who, in summer, have a reduced offer of products, precisely because of the heat, which hampers many productions".
But then, panettone at Ferragosto? Why not! Under the parasol on the beach, in the picnic basket, on the tables set on the terrace or in the garden, after that provocation, the big leavened cake appears more and more often and is therefore no longer only associated with Christmas, but now with the New Year's Eve of summer, the Ferragosto (mid-August). And for that day, there are those who talk of summer panettone filled with candied seasonal fruit or with numerous other variations, but there are those who prefer, and they are not few, the traditional panettone because there is only one panettone. It is indeed an artisanal and traditional panettone cake signed by Michelin-starred chef Igles Corelli and produced by Fiore 1827, the Sienese company that will be 200 years old in 2027, that will cheer Ferragosto. Orchestrating this event, which took place on the "noble sands" of Forte dei Marmi, was Davide Paolini together with Igles Corelli himself and Fiore 1827 patron Gabriele Filippini. But first, for the few guests, there was the traditional Forte dish: spaghetto alle arselle (spaghetti with clams) accompanied by Lady F, a rare white wine from Orpicchio grapes produced in Bolgheri by the Fittipaldi women. And on the panettone? After a friendly consultation between Davide Paolini, Igles Corelli and Gabriele Filippini, they all agreed on a rosé and, for the occasion, Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Rosé champagne. "After years as a spectator,' Paolini concludes, 'this year I wanted to reintroduce the ritual of the panettone, on the occasion of the release of the book "A tavola vista mare" (available at this link) precisely in one of the establishments mentioned in the book: Bagno Silvio, which I am very fond of. Here, with a 3-kilo panettone (my preference is for extra-large panettone) in which there is the hand of my friend Igles Corelli, symbol for me, on this occasion, of all the "panetun" of Ferragosto, to wish with a tear (and not with a knife) to all the lovers of this artisanal icon of Made in Italy, a summer of taste".