Pino Cuttaia: me and cherries
Pino Cuttaia: me and cherries
With chef Pino Cuttaia we went on a journey into memory, between Northern and Southern Europe, to talk about cherries and sour cherries, symbols of the beginning of summer.
In summer, warm colors dominate, even at the table. Red is the main color and this season offers an incredible variety of products. We have already treated tomatoes , so today we dedicate our space to cherries and sour cherries ,we asked chef pino cuttaia about cherries and sour cherries, the symbolic fruits of summerthe fruits symbolizing the beginning of summer and a time lost in memory, in which (who hasn’t done it at least once?) we went to play in the countryside and innocently collected or stole these small sweet spheres. After asking the chef Pino Cuttaia of La Madia di Licata (AG) the best ways to cook aubergines , we asked him about his relationship with these summer fruits. First a small premise is needed: what is the difference between cherries and sour cherries? They belong to two different botanical species: the sweeter cherries to Prunus avium while the more acidic varieties such as black cherries, morello cherries and sour cherries to Prunus cerasus .
What is your first memory related to these fruits?
” It is linked to the perfume, at the beginning of summer, to picnics and jams: I lived with my family in Germany and there were these delicious cherry jams, which we have never been able to replicate “.
So cherries are an ingredient that unites Northern and Southern Europe?
” It is extraordinary because all countries have cherries: even in Sicily they are found in some parts of the hinterland “.
We talked about jams. Can cherries and sour cherries also be used in other ways in the kitchen?
“ They are used a lot both in the world of cooking and pastry. For example, we can combine them with meat: once they were used to accompany game. When I was working in Piedmont I remember that foie gras was accompanied with corns to create a contrast between the fat of the meat and the acidity of the cherry “.
Where do we find them in the pastry shop?
“ In Germany, for example, there is the Black Forest cake which features cherries and chocolate. In Italy they are usually used in jams, pies , candied fruit, in syrup, in alcohol “.
What do you like about these fruits?
“ The color and the crunchiness “.
Do you like cherries or sour cherries more?
” When I was little I didn’t like black cherries, then I started falling in love with those in syrup and when I took a cup of ice creamI always hoped to find a few more pieces that I jealously kept, to then enjoy it at the end. I can eat even a kilo of cherries alone; black cherries tire me immediately but the acidity, tannins and color (remember that the cherries are beautiful red on the outside but not on the inside) make this fruit more particular, more refined and more suitable for both the canning industry and the kitchen. In pastry, for example, black cherries and raspberries are used a lot because they have a good balance between sweetness and acidity; the cherry can be too cloying. Furthermore, black cherries are more prized because there are fewer of them, they have a shorter life span and are a delicate fruit “.
Where do we find them in your kitchen?
“I use black cherries in pastry, for example in syrup over fiordilatte ice cream or Sicilian cassata to which I also add a leaf of fresh mint: it is good both in terms of color and flavor because it gives freshness. Or you can find cherries with raw tuna, because an interesting contrast is created between the sweetness of the fruit and the acidity of the fish “.