Ticino = risotto. In the minds of many tourists from north of the Alps, this is a self-evident equation. Indeed, the close relationship between this dish and the local population is beyond dispute. You can find risotto almost everywhere in Ticino. From the many grottos (simple rural taverns) to highly rated restaurants, the number of varieties on this one theme is endless, as are the culinary techniques employed which run the gamut from the most traditional to the most innovative.
The fact that Ticino is the home of risotto is clear to almost everyone but there is one thing that very few people know: In Ticino the Loto variety of rice (very similar to the arborio variety and therefore perfect for preparing risottos) has only been cultivated for just over 20 years. For over 60 years our region has boasted what cognoscenti refer to as “Switzerland’s rice warehouse” with storage for approximately 10,000 tons at Taverne Rice Mill, a firm which processes the much-loved cereal. Clients include an important national distribution company.
But the relationship between Ticino and risotto doesn’t end there. This dish is deeply rooted in the culture and popular imagination of the entire local population, above all due to its enormous impact on culinary traditions both in Insubria (the cross-border lake district) and in Lombardy. Risotto cooked by nonna is associated with Sundays spent with one’s family or with joyous social occasions. And so this dish has gained a cult following in restaurants and households throughout our region, often being recognised as one of the most emblematic dishes of our regional cuisine. One need only consider Carnival which for very many years in Lugano has been inaugurated with a classic risotto in the main piazza. The principal dish is Carnival risotto, based on saffron and legendary luganighetta sausages.
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