Pasta event adds twist to Italian food week

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-01 07:18

Click, click, click. As I walked into the grand ballroom of an upscale hotel in downtown Beijing, three women at the entrance frantically tapped the counters in their hands.

They were tallying up the numbers of guests joining the Guinness World Records challenge for the world's largest pasta-tasting event, which is in fact a charity gala dinner.

On the night of Nov 24, more than 300 guests joined the gala in the grand ballroom of the Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel as eager participants in the culinary challenge.

"You have to finish all three pastas in front of you," says Brittany Dunn, an adjudicator from the Guinness World Records. "The latest record was achieved last month in Argentina with 316 people. Let's see if we can break that record tonight."

Three pastas were served on the same plate in front of me, and I didn't have time to think about the challenge before I finished them within a couple of minutes - they were flavorful and delicious.

The first one I tried was farfalle pasta with a mixed mushroom ragout and truffles, representing the flavors of northern Italy with its abundance of mushrooms.

The second dish was penne pasta with a guanciale of amatrice (pork cheek), pecorino Romano and tomato. The third was spaghetti with mixed seafood sauce. They represented recipes from central and southern Italy respectively, explains Massimiliano Esposito, president of the Federation Italian Chefs China Delegation.

"Pasta is the main ingredient for Chinese and Italian people - pasta and noodles - that's why the similarity is very strong between Italy and China," says Esposito.

Esposito and Lin Yilun, singer and founder of sauce brand Fanye, joined chefs from the hotel for an onstage presentation on how to cook each pasta dish. "I want to show you that pasta can be easily cooked at home," says Lin.

Thirty minutes after I finished my pasta, Brittany Dunn returned to the stage and announced that three people had been disqualified for not finishing their pasta.

"I can confirm that today you have 348 people who successfully tasted the pasta, and that makes a new Guinness World Records achievement," says Dunn.

People around me started to celebrate before Dunn could finish speaking.

Just as one Italian cuisine event drew to a close in China, another had just begun: Nov 20 to 26 marked the second round of the Extraordinary Italian Taste campaign.

This year's Italian food week in China was celebrated in 14 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen, with more than 100 events ranging from seminars and tastings, to culinary courses and dinners.

Italian ambassador to China Ettore Francesco Sequi says: "This year, we are focusing on the Mediterranean diet and food safety, and we are bringing Italian chef Massimo Spigaroli to China to share his culinary skills."

Many Italian business executives also visited China with their products, Sequi said at the news conference promoting the Extraordinary Italian Taste campaign.

Amedeo Scarpa, director of the Italian Trade Commission in China, says China is one of the most promising markets for Italian exports.

"We want to draw Chinese customers' attention to the fact that the quality and safety of authentic Italian products are strictly controlled by our use of digital technology."

Pasta event adds twist to Italian food week

(China Daily 12/01/2017 page19)

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