Saturday, April 1, 2023

No more risotto? Drought is killing one of Italy’s most traditional dishes

VESPOLATE, Italy.- It had rained only one day all year, the afternoon temperature was again approaching 38ºC, and Fabrizio Rizzotti entered his fields: 90 hectares of rice, a plant submerged in water.

He didn’t need his shoes.

The rice stalks had become dry and small, Instead of being filled with water, the field crumbled under the feet. Rizzotti, a seventh-generation farmer, said the paddy field was already dead—”not a grain of rice can get out of here,” he said—and then pointed to the next field, a little greener and more Water is desperately needed. ,

“In a few days that field will also die.” Told. “It’s something that turns my stomach.”

A Girl Fills Her Water Bottle &Quot;Barkasia Fountain&Quot;In Rome, Amid The Heat Wave In Italy
A girl fills her water bottle at the “Fontana della Barcassia” in Rome amid a heat wave in ItalyAndreas Solaro – AFP

In Europe’s scorching heat, few places have been more affected than northern Italy, where A severe drought has dried up a large river, created a state of emergency and put the country’s famous agricultural plains in deep trouble. The drought is also worrying Italians about the things they took for granted: not only the rice fields typical of the region, but the foodstuffs derived from them. Especially risotto.

“less rice will mean more expensive risotto”, Rizzotti says.

Italian rice is a risotto rice – ideal for soaking up flavors and retaining them – and risotto is a farmer who cares about food as much as he cares about his crops. He named his dog Risotto. And even his last name is reminiscent of the dish.

But as the duration of extreme weather gets longer, he starts considering rice as a valuable commodity. The main Italian agricultural group predicts thatYields will be 30% less than normal this year, Around Rizzotti’s field, other rice farmers wonder if the next few years will be similar. With the help of a local canal system built in the 1860s, the water is often several meters high, in irrigation ditches running the length of Rizzotti’s property. Now there is only a thread of sediment.

“Basically, there is no water left,” he said.

Rice Fields In Northern Italy
Rice fields in northern Italy

One recent afternoon, sweating down his forehead, he climbed into his car and checked other parts of his property. The health of a field can change from place to place depending on soil composition, distance to main water channels and farmer’s decisions. But even in the healthiest areas of the rizoti, where there is a constant supply of water, there were dark green spots indicating the onset of dehydration., used to sing cricket; Some dragonflies buzz over the golden grass. The only movement was a neighbor spraying on the horizon, with little water left in the corn field.

“Everyone is faced with tough decisions,” Rizzotti said. “My neighbor is watering his corn to save his cows. But he is letting his rice die.”,

Rice can only grow when there is a flood; Farmers say an inch or two of water works when the plant is young, but it needs six or three inches in deep heat., Rizzotti’s rice lacks all those benchmarks. Last year, his company, where his son and another employee work, produced 350 tonnes of white rice. He says he will be lucky if he reaches 150 tonnes this year.

“And that in the best of cases,” he said of the situation in which His net salary will increase from $30,000 to $15,000. “The only hope for this too is for the rains to start. It’s raining fast”

But the forecast was for 35-degree days and nonstop sunshine for at least the next week.

this part of italy plain between the Alps and the Po RiverRice is the predominant area under cultivation in a country that represents half of the rice in the European Union.

The farmers of the region, like the winemakers, speak in poetic terms about the properties of wind, thaw and soil, all factors of their harvest.

Rizzotti – who uses centuries-old machinery at some stage to process his rice – talks about the purity of his rice when under a microscope (no microcracks, he says). When you sell your rice field restaurants, He asks them to credit his farm called Riso Rizzotti on his menu.

“For people here, rice is the first food right after breast milk,” says Michelin-starred chef Marta Grassi, who runs Tantris, a restaurant in the nearby town of Novara.

Plato De Risotto De Tantris
Plato de Risotto de Tantris

Arborio is the most famous of Italian rice dishes., synonymous with risotto among Americans. But in northern Italy, among grandmothers and cooks, it is considered second-class, a rice that quickly thaws and does not hold its shape. On the other hand, the most appreciated rice is carnaroliWhich lasts al dente longer.

“You need a risotto with texture,” says 40-year-old Claudia Fonio, a cook at a restaurant near Risotto’s farm. “You have to taste the grain.”

“As far as I am concerned, this is the beginning of a series of crises that will repeat themselves over and over again,” he pointed.

In meetings of the union that manages the distribution of water to farmers and sets quotas, there have been fights and outcry. “One area is facing another,” Rizzotti said. “War of the poor against the poor.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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