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tv   Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy  CNN  May 7, 2022 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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i'm sorry. but here's the thing - the one thing romans can't resist is a good meal and i'm hopeful that soon noda's food will be another culinary landmark in this eternal city. so we're coming down through calabria, on a train obviously. we're going to sicily, the biggest island in the mediterranean. because there is no bridge, they take the train and put it onto a ferry. oh, we're getting on it! oh that's exciting. and you can see the tracks here, where the other cars will go. i love trains, but i like the
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idea that the train goes on a boat. i think we should get a car on top of this and be in a car on a train on a boat and then have a horse on top of the car. i'm stanley tucci. i'm fascinated by my italian heritage and i'm travelling across italy to discover how the food in each of this country's 20 regions is as unique as the people and their past. >> sicily is a mythical land of contrasts - fire and water, dry and fertile, refined... that's very french. ...and rough. >> how did one of the poorest regions in europe... >> what do you think? >> i love it. ...create the richest of
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cuisines? that's so good. get ready... this is delicious. i want to take a bath in it. ...every mouthful here... mmm, that's wonderful. an eruption of flavor. my god that's so good. mmm, my god! before i arrive in sicily, there's one delicious food ritual that i have to experience. it's a tradition to eat these while you're a boat passing this statue of the madonna. these are arancini. look at that. these beautiful little cones are rice with saffron, peas, meat. the story goes that the arabs brought these to sicily in the 9th century. hand-rolled rice, with a meat filling. breaded and fried.
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that's good. the taste of arancini, i am told, is the taste of home for all sicilians. just a few miles off the toe of the boot of italy lies the island of sicily it's southernmost region, and with volcanic soil so fertile it's nickname is god's kitchen. but sicily is also said to be home to the gates of hell. impoverished for centuries, conquered by everyone from the arabs to the french and haunted by its mafia connections the locals have learned to make the most of what they've got. in this fiercely traditional region things are changing and i
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want to discover the effect it's having on the food. classic sicilian cuisine is harnessing the power of simple ingredients and allowing them to shine. don't mistake uncomplicated for bland. seafood, vegetables and pasta only need a little local olive oil and salt to reveal their sublime qualities. just outside the capital, palermo, in a seaside town called bagheria, an amazing self-taught chef has built his reputation on the basics. >> tucci: ciao. >> tony: ciao. >> tony lo coco left school at 17 to work with his dad making stained glass for churches but he fell in love with food and now owns a michelin-starred restaurant called i pupi. >> tony is cooking his version
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of the sicilian classic, spaghetti alla bottarga. >> oh i see, it creates a little texture to it which helps the sauce stick to it which ends up giving everything a better flavor. what could be more italian than spaghetti, right? well, wrong. it's said that spaghetti was invented by the arabs who brought it to sicily a thousand years ago. but the arabs ate their spaghetti with raisins and cinnamon, very different to the savory dishes of today, like this one. bottarga is a solid block of dried fish eggs, tuna in this case. tony is so proud of his signature dish he has named it spaghettony. >> garam. this is like what the romans used to make.
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>> right. this is the secret to the flavor. this gives it that intensity. garam was sort of like roman ketchup... sort of, maybe. tony then adds lemon zest, sicilian of course, and an avalanche of bottarga. on top he adds salted, dehydrated fried capers for crunch and dried breadcrumbs ground down with anchovies, which is called mullica. this is the mullica that people used to use who lived by the sea because they didn't have cheese, this in essence took the place of cheese. >> tony: voila. >> tucci: come on. >> tony: oh! >> tucci: oh no! >> tony: [laughs] >> tucci: that's beautiful. >> tucci: goddamn it, mm!
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>> tucci: thank you. that's so good. my god that's so good. mmm, my god! the core, the soul of your restaurant, is taking really simple food of sicily and elevating it. >> tony: yes. >> it turns out tony is a culinary linguist. >> jesus, i feel guilty. >> tucci: i just love this idea. >> i want to live with you. >> tony created something that a lot of people aren't able to create .
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he's able to take these traditional foods and elevate them.
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stark, hilly fields. this area is known for its grapes and i'm parched so i'm in the right place. sicily has a reputation for being a traditional, rather macho society so until recently, winemaking, like many professions here, was controlled by men. but the winemaker i'm about to meet is definitely bucking the trend. this is 38 year old arianna occhipinti. so, tell me everything. >> tucci: what is the grape? >> tucci:] and nero d'avola is a very common grape in sicily isn't it?
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>> sicily is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world but it's wine is often thought to be too bold, perhaps fine to blend with other wines but nothing to be celebrated on its own but arianna is said to be producing a more delicate vintage. >> so what should it be? >> it should be brown? >> it is sweet. it's very sweet, it's actually much sweeter than i thought it was going to be. next to arianna's vineyard lie abandoned farms - a reminder that sicily has the worst unemployment rate in italy. thousands of young sicilians have left the island in search of work. so you had a lot of friends who
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left and where did they go? what did they end up doing? >> tucci: so the farm ends up shutting down or the vineyard ends up shutting down. >> yes. arianna was inspired by the potential of the southern sicilian soil. >> her organic vines produce lower yields but fruitier aromas and her varieties are deeply rooted in the local land. so you're from here? >> arianna's dedication is evident in every aspect of her business.
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>> tucci: i always wondered how this was done. >> it's your piece of art. >> it's beautiful. >> tucci: how many bottles do you make a year? >> tucci: wow. >> tucci: yes! i thought you'd never ask. >> arianna: perfect. >> now i'm hardly a wine expert but i do know what i like and that i like drinking it. this is delicious and i want to
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take a bath in it. >> arianna: yes, yes. >> tucci: yeah, yeah. >> tucci: a lot of sicilian wines are quite heavy but it's light-- >> arianna's impressive achievements in the wine world come from her steely determination to choose the artisanal over the industrial. that's really good. >> yep. and in a region where only a quarter of women have joined the workforce her success is nothing short of revolutionary. did you find it difficult,
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particularly as a young woman to start a business ? >> and they respect you. that's great. well thank you. >> you're welcome. >> thank you so much. arianna's wine is ground-breaking and i have no doubt that in the hands of people like her this land will certainly flourish. honeymoon. romance is in the air. like these two. he's realizing he's in love. and that his dating app just went up.
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it's not what i expected, it's kind of a revelation. i'm excited to go through it and explore it. palermo was first settled by venetian traders in the 8th century b.c. then the arabs and the normans arrived or conquered and these waves of migration created an incredibly beautiful city. it almost looks like new orleans. when you look down you see it's like the french quarter parts of it. but palermo's beauty has come at a cost. this magnificent architecture is the legacy of wealthy land owners who built grand palazzo's on the profits of their estates while their workers lived in poverty. when this system collapsed in
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the 19th century workers moved out of the countryside and into the city where poor and rich now live side by side. >> hidden behind this 400 year old door is a world i've never encountered - i've been invited to dinner by a real life princess. stanley. princess stefania di raffadali is one of the last surviving members of a sicilian royal family. >> nice to see you. >> princess stefania: thank you very much. i'm very happy to be here. the princess became a royal through marriage to a direct descendent of the norman conquest. this palace has been in her husband's family since the late 16th century and is preserved like a living museum. how long were you married? >> princess stefania: we married in '57. >> tucci: and when did he pass away?
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>> princess stefania: just ten years ago. he loved this house very much. >> tucci: yeah i bet. >> princess stefania: so the only thing that i could do was to keep it and maintain it. >> tucci: well it's absolutely beautiful. >> but as thrilled as i am to meet the princess, that's not the only reason i wanted to come here. i'm on the hunt for the perfect timballo. >> tucci: look at that, so pretty. >> a baked mold of pasta or rice with rich ingredients. it's a dish i'm obsessed with. oh wow. every family has a different way of making it. >> princess stefania: yes. >> and i've heard that maria, the princess' chef, is a much sought-after authority on timballo making. >> in my family, we have our own version of this dish, and it's the centerpiece of a film i made called big night, back in the 1990s. so it's macaroni. >> maria: macaroni. >> princess stefania :
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we had great fights because the old recipe was sugar but she doesn't like sweet things. >> tucci: she doesn't like it? >> she's always saying "too much sugar." maria is making three very different versions of her timballo for dinner - one with eggplant. one with rice. and this one with a pastry crust. the princess's son, bernardo, and her granddaughter, alessandra are joining us for this rather formal dinner, complete with a white-gloved butler. thank you. so this is the first one, which is -- >> princess stefania:
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eggplants with cheese-- >> and pasta. >> princess stefania: aneletti. >> tucci: tell me about the tradition of timballo. >> princess stefania: they came from france. all the families of the aristocracy thought it was smart to have a french cook. they brought with them, for example, bechamel, that wasn't known here in italy because we had more arab cuisine. >> is this like, what? how many years? >> princess stefania: 1856. >> 1850s. i find it fascinating that even this most sicilian of dishes has origins elsewhere. >> yeah, it's a huge amount of work. you need to make it with somebody. yeah. >> this one is with rice, with bechamel, cheese and ham. >> that's very french. >> which is the best one for you? >> the eggplant. i could eat the entire thing. >> it's very funny this.
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>> tucci: which one is yours? >> i prefer the rice one. >> it's certainly fitting to be eating this dish in such an opulent and unique setting. i feel like i've stepped into a time machine to experience the origins of timballo. so tell me how palermo has changed. >> now it has become an international town. everybody's coming. >> i did notice when i went out last night all these young people out and it was much more youthful than i thought it was going to be. >> i have a lot of friends that come from france or germany and i've seen people falling in love with palermo in a moving way. there's something in the light of palermo. >> one of the reasons for palermo's regeneration is the decline of the infamous cosa nostra. the mafia. >> and the connection between the mafia and the government is not as great as it once was?
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>> yeah. of the judges. >> falcone and borsellino were judges who brought large-scale legal action against the mafiosi, exposing the government's support for the mafia. they paid the ultimate price for their bravery. both men were assassinated within months of each other in palermo in 1992. >> tucci: to change. >> tucci: that was a turning point. >> yeah.
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>> tucci: right. it's been a very memorable evening. but palermo's ancient aristocratic families are a dying breed, however much we might want to preserve the past. the heart of this beautiful city has moved elsewhere. to the young. to the new. and to the future. thank you very much, thank you. under budget too! and i get seven days to love it or my money back... i love it! [laughs] we'll drive you happy at carvana. [sound of lawnmower] [vocalizing] [drum sounds]
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and it's only available to comcast business internet customers. so boost your bottom line by switching today. comcast business. powering possibilities.™ thank you very much, thank you. if you thought sicily was italy's southernmost island, you'd be wrong. because 173 miles even further south is the beautiful island of lampedusa. with just 5,000 inhabitants, this paradise island was famed for its waters chockfull of fish. situated 70 miles off the african coast it's become a
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beacon for migrants and asylum seekers trying to get to europe. thousands arrive on these shores every year. i've come to the port to meet third generation fisherman beppe billeci who's bringing in the daily catch. >> beppe's been fishing here since he was nine, catching anchovies and alacce, a type of sardine that was once the main form of sustenance in lampedusa. he's invited me for lunch. his wife rina is rumored to be one of the island's best cooks. >> rina's preparing some traditional sicilian dishes with her daughter enza, using some of the fish that beppe's just caught. >> it's so simple - all she does is dress the dish with a simple
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salsa verde which is made of parsley, capers, olive oil and bread soaked in vinegar. her second dish is more elaborate. >> rina is making sarde a beccafico which literally means, fig-pecker sardines. but the fig-pecker is a bird,
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not a fish. >> for me this dish embodies the whole philosophy of sicilian cooking - if you can't afford the food of the aristocracy, make do with what you've got. >> thank you for having us. it's so good. with the salsa verde, it's so simple. it's absolutely delicious. >> little girl: [speaks italian] >> [speaks italian] she just said "the fish is good."
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delicious. but the sea that has provided us with this feast is also the arena of an ongoing tragedy. over the last six years it has claimed the lives of an estimated 18,000 migrants, fleeing poverty and war. as a fisherman, beppe has first-hand experience of this crisis .
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i just want to ask you about the immigrant situation, the migrant situation. >> in a country where migration is the leading political issue lampedusans stand out for their compassion. the whole island was nominated for the nobel peace prize in 2014. beppe has bravely saved migrants in the past, pulling them from the sea but after a government clampdown, captains who saved them faced fines and even imprisonment. >> the situation for refugees remains extremely precarious. i've come to what's known on the island as the boat graveyard.
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a place where refugee boats are discarded. the desperation... has to be so profound... to come across the ocean in a boat like that.
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i'm back in mainland sicily and i'm heading east. i'm going to catania, an ancient and beautiful port city. it's a bustling vibrant metropolis and the island's second largest city. but it does have one problem - it sits right in the shadow of mount etna - one of the most active volcanoes in the world. don't you wonder who said "i have an idea, let's just build a house up here at the base of the volcano." "don't you want to be closer to
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the sea?" "no, no, no, no. i want to be right at the fiery maw of it." [laughs] but there's a very good reason why catanians risk living so close to this volatile volcano. because centuries of eruptions have created mineral-rich soil which grows some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the world. i'm here to visit a restaurant that uses some of this beautiful local produce to make classic sicilian dishes. it's owner is roberta capizzi. >> roberta: we can come this way. >> tucci: ok. roberta's chef is making pasta alla norma, a sicilian favorite made with eggplant. it was named after the opera, norma, composed by one of catania's most famous sons, vincenzo bellini. so pasta alla norma is a very famous sicilian dish. and the recipe we're gonna make today is from your family? >> eggplants are a gift left by the arab domination in the 9th
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century and in sicilian cooking they often replace meat because they're cheaper and they grow everywhere. and then tomato? >> tucci: what kind of pasta are you using? >> of course, homemade, fresh cut macaroni. what else? and it wouldn't be a norma without salty baked ricotta on top. >> what do you think? >> i love it. i love it, it's so simple and it's really delicate. >> thank you. >> oh my god, it's so good. for the next dish, roberta's promised me something special. i never imagined myself or anyone else, eating donkey. it's a donkey. >> yes.
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>> it was a donkey. >> yes. donkeys are a favorite around here... this is delicious. ...because they've always been hardworking companions for sicilian farmers. the meat is sweet. >> yes. >> believe it or not, it's really good. it's like beef carpaccio but even sweeter. tell me about the big change you made in your life. >> tucci: wow. >> yeah. >> tucci: and the name of the restaurant, tell me the name of the restaurant. >> tucci: which means? >> everything from sicily.
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>> roberta: everything. true to its name, the restaurant, like the house of a good friend, stays open all day. which isn't usual in this part of the world. most places close between lunch and dinner.
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are sicilians different than >> grazie, thank you. like a true sicilian, roberta's passion for life, family and for this island has found a perfect expression in her food. it's just extraordinary. it's some of the best food, probably, that i've ever had. the food is great, but the magic ingredient that makes this restaurant so special is the wonderful sicilian hospitality, which also helps take your mind off that active volcano looming nearby.
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center for newcomers in sicily, and this new wave of migration is already changing the city and its food. emmanuella and mimmo pistone run a supper club where young refugees and migrants cook the food from their homelands and share their stories. >> mustafa, ciao. >> nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you too. >> hi. joy. >> tucci: hi joy, how are you? joy, from nigeria, is now a close family friend and mustafa, a young migrant from egypt, has become their foster son. and i've heard they're both amazing cooks. >> this one we have carrots, green beans, and the shrimps. >> tucci: and little shrimps? the little... >> joy: they are fried already. >> oh, delicious. oh, i can't wait. it's very exciting.
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tonight they're making a fusion of african dishes. >> joy: this one is called nigerian fried rice. >> wow. joy's special rice is being served alongside spicy chicken flavored with curry, ginger and rosemary. oh my gosh. >> mustafa: yeah, yeah. for you. >> tucci: plantains. and plantain. it's my favorite. a type of banana fried in coconut oil. >> i can see that nigerian and italian hospitality have a lot in common. oh, that's wonderful. that's delicious. emmanuella and mimmo took mustafa under their wing shortly after he arrived in sicily six years ago. he was only sixteen when he left his family to make the dangerous journey across the mediterranean. how did they arrive? >> with a small boat.
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in the main beach of catania, which is called playa. it was the 10th of august in 2013. >> tucci: how big was the boat? >> the boat stopped. >> it hit a sand bar. >> yes. >> yeah. >> they started walking. just in front of the shore. it was terrible. >> they couldn't swim.
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>> tucci: this is the thing - so many people imagine that people leave their countries to come and take advantage when, in fact, they're just coming because they live in fear... >> joy: yeah. >> ...they're incredibly poor. >> joy: they need somewhere safe as well. >> yes, they need somewhere safe and they want to work hard. >> yeah. >> to have a good life. >> yeah. >> so when people say that we are good because we help them, but i always say it's not true, because they are helping us in finding a reason to give a sense to this moment, you know, that the world is living. so we have to thank them. >> the story of immigration
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seems to have changed very little over the years. and one of its most beautiful consequences is the imprint it leaves on the cuisine. the spices that are part of all this, from egypt, have been in italy for centuries. it's what created italian food. it's why italian food in sicily is completely different than the italian food in piemonte or in rome. well, i really want to thank you so much. you're pretty great parents, that's all i can say. >> even if from time to time we quarrel. >> throughout history, sicilians have shared the bounty of their generous land with newcomers. evolving the culture and creating new culinary traditions. cheers, cheers. cheers, cheers. thank you. >> every new arrival brings change and the opportunity for
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regeneration and renewal. but one thing that won't change here is that, at the home of a cumpari, the door is always open and you are always welcome to join the feast. ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers in the united states and right around the world. i'm isa soares live in ukraine where dozens are feared dead after russia's latest assault turns a school shelter into a pile of rubble. i'm kim brunhuber at cnn world headquarters in atlanta following our other top stories. a historic election win in northern ireland. sinn fein promises a new era to supporters and opponents. a live report from belfast


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