“Dolce Vita in Serendib”: a small encyclopedia of Italian cuisine
If there’s anything Sri Lankans and Italians have in common, it’s our love of food, and on Tuesday (14) the Italian Embassy in Colombo launched the Coffee Table Book Dolce Vita in Serendib, a gastronomic journey of authentic Italian cuisine in Sri Lanka. The book contains a repertoire of epicurean treasures with over 60 Italian recipes beautifully interwoven with tales and tales of the culinary history of Italy.
Ambassador of Italy to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Rita Mannella
Eight restaurants in Sri Lanka provided recipes for their iconic Italian dishes, while the Ambassador’s and Deputy Ambassador’s beloved recipes were also added to the book. The featured restaurants – Aqua Forte, Capital Bar and Grill at Shangri-La, Dolce Italia, Echo at Cinnamon Grand, Lago Italian Bistro, Mount Lavinia Hotel, Park Street Trattoria and Tintagel – have been handpicked as serving the Italian cuisine of the day. more authentic.
Complementing the flavors in the pages is an array of tales recounting the legend, history, anecdotes and tales that surround Italy’s romance with food. Quirky, factual, historical and fun, the articles begin with an introduction to trendy cuisine and fiery flavors, traveling through time with wine, cheese, pasta, ham, olive oil, of coffee, ice cream, and pizza, run through label history, slow cooking, the Mediterranean diet, and food culture, while adding a reality check with food preservation.
At the book launch event, Italian Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Rita Mannella, who wrote the book with famous writer Savithri Rodrigo, said: âThe idea of ââpublishing a book by recipes featuring Italian cuisine came to mind almost immediately upon my arrival. I wanted everyone to try to prepare, eat and savor Italian food in their own home, with authentic Italian recipes. As an Italian it is universally known that we love our traditional cuisine. I have also seen the deep appreciation and love for Italian food among our Sri Lankan friends and this is no surprise as Italian food is truly universal.
Renowned writer Savithri Rodrigo
Also speaking at the launch event, Sri Lanka Tourism President Kimarli Fernando said she was delighted to see the diversity of cuisine and cultures in Sri Lanka being showcased, noting: reference to Italian flavors is really exciting. The multi-cuisine flavors that Sri Lanka offers are truly unique and one of the country’s USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) that I think we need to build on. It is fascinating to watch this book showcase the authenticity of the flavors Sri Lanka has to offer, whether in five-star restaurants or independent boutique restaurants. This is a good start to placing Sri Lanka as a gastronomic destination.
Speak separately to BrunchAmbassador Mannella explained that Dolce Vita in Serendib Part of it was born out of a project to work on during lockdown when everything else stopped. âI am an active person and not having my usual commitments was difficult,â Ambassador Manella explained, adding: âThis project was the panacea against the boredom that threatened to set in. Moreover, when we started talking with restaurants, he bringing people together, which is a diplomat’s primary goal. We were a group of people who spoke the common language of cooking. But that also meant that due to the confinement, our access to restaurants and their cuisine was limited, so although this is our first edition, we hope that a second edition will become a reality with more restaurants. â
Noting that being able to explore the intricacies of Italian cuisine and its deeply rooted history was one of his favorite parts of his work on Dolce Vita in SerendibAmbassador Manella also shared with us what she found most difficult, saying: âTurning a cookbook into an art book was a big challenge. I wanted to make this book a work of art, a masterpiece that gives food for thought. I want it to be placed on a coffee table, where people socialize and become a topic of conversation rather than being among the cookbooks on the shelves of a kitchen.
Guests at the event holding copies of “Dolce Vita in Serendib”
As an Italian diplomat and ambassador of Italian culture in more ways than one, Dolce Vita in Serendib was still a learning experience, Ambassador Manella, who said that one of the most unexpected things she learned while working on the book was being able to handcraft the iconic Italian pasta fettuccine.
Gourmets ourselves, we also asked Ambassador Manella, what recipe Dolce Vita in Serendib she finds the most irresistible, and learns that Dolce Vita in Serendib has the recipe for a delicious chocolate cake. âIt’s just divine,â she shared, adding, âActually one of the guests who got the book, did it and told me it really was the best cake in the world. chocolate in the world, which also means that the recipes have been tried and tested. I also like the Vitello Tonnato – a veal recipe with a tuna and anchovy sauce, which is not a restaurant meal but rather a family meal because it is absolutely fresh and it is a summer meal that brings the family together. This is the raison d’Ãªtre of Italian cuisine: the love, joy and friendliness that comes from food .
Savithri Rodrigo who collaborated on the narrative aspect of the book also shared his thoughts on the experience, noting that his favorite aspect of working on the book was being able to learn new things. âImmerse yourself in the history of Italian cuisine like pizza, pasta, coffee and my favorites – cheese and wine – which, although part of our daily life, we know very little about the origins, uses and evolution was incredibly exciting, âsaid Rodrigo, also noting that it was a double-edged sword:â Summing up all the research I’ve come across – there was an unimaginable amount of information that took me years to read and decipher, yet summing up everything that was difficult – but the results were a veritable repository of amazing information.
Rodrigo’s most unexpected learning from the book was how fascinating Italian cuisine is. âDiscovering that Italy was truly the food capital of the world, how food is centered around everything in Italy, the interweaving of food and fashion with the arts, how the master painters portrayed the emphasis on fresh produce in their works, learning that Italian cuisine is not just pasta and pizza, but an endlessly expansive epicurean discovery, those absolutely ostentatious banquets and etiquetteâ¦ etiquette – what gems were in there! I now know how – and how not to – eat pasta, âshe said, adding that she just couldn’t decide which recipe she preferred. âI can’t chooseâ¦ I just can’t. Each recipe is better than the last and each becomes a favorite, unfortunately.