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Alla Carta is a new bi-annual magazine which explores the social act of eating through fashion, design, art and cinema. Fabiana Fierotti, Yara de Nicola and Valentina Barzaghi, the three publishers behind the magazine, explain us how the project came to life. Being food the only thing that brings us all together, this is also an essential moment in everybody’s life. Alla Carta reveals to us the importance of eating as a moment of sharing but also as an inspiration for a deeper understanding of cultural values.

How did the Alla Carta project come to life and what is about?

Alla Carta was born from the mutual wish we had to work in publishing and make a personal project. The three of us posses strong backgrounds in this field: Valentina was PIG Magazine’s Director, Yara is a professional photographer and has collaborated with Self Service and Elle and I am fashion writer for different publications and PIG’s former Fashion Director. Alla Carta is a bi-annual Italian magazine (published in english) which explores the social act of eating around a table through fashion, design, art and cinema. We chose food as the main theme of the magazine with the aim to find a strong editorial subject, likely to become our signature.

In Italian, Alla Carta means both paper and «à la carte» order on demand, could you explain this choice to our readers?

When we chose the magazine’s title, our first aim was to keep our publication linked to Italy and Italian culture. Alla Carta is an ode to paper as the most precious of mediums, despite this critical moment for press, but also a reference to the menu. Although this is an Italian term, the title is quite expressive for our international readers: its similarity with the French expression à la carte made this a term worldwide known. This double reference, as well as the Italian title, are elements that arouse our readers curiosity.

Alla Carta is strongly characterized by its format and the texture pages. While browsing the magazine we find pleasure in its touch and smell, was this a feature you wanted to develop from the beginning?

Alla Carta’s first 3 issues were made with thicker quality paper. This feature captivates the eye of our readers. Nevertheless, we truly believe that the continuos product renovation is essential. Alla Carta is a personal and independent project, so we have complete freedom in choosing its format. We want to keep an improvement and developing margin so we don’t discard the possibility of changing the format of the magazine in the future, maybe with a combination of different papers. In any case, our first aim is to keep a strong aesthetic sense and not confuse our readers.

There is one sense that cannot be conveyed trough print which is that one of taste. For a magazine about food this is a great challenge, how did you develop this idea in Alla Carta?

Since the food is the protagonist in our pages, the world we develop around it most likely gives a sense of taste or gluttony, but this is not our goal. What we would like to reveal in our pages is the importance of the social act of eating as an essential moment in our everyday life. Our wish is to make our readers willing to meet around a table to share a moment together. The food becomes a source of inspiration for a deeper matter.

Let’s talk about this... What is the meaning behind the act of eating and why is it so important?

We consider the act of eating as a key moment in the social life and we want to stress its value through Alla Carta. While sitting together around a table we are “forced” to share a moment with another person, talk to her and listen to her. This is one of these rare situations in which you need to make the effort of knowing somebody. The act of eating is then a sort of ritual. The last issue’s main editorial very much reflects our point of view: taking inspiration from the cinema culture we highlight the act of eating as moments of pause, obligation or commitment while problems have to be solved or discussed. We chose this approach to underline the importance of this ritual in everybody’s life.

The act of eating as a moment of sharing is typically Mediterranean, do you think this can be extended worldwide?

The act of eating always reflects its society. Mediterranean cultures express it with a sense of sharing, that for us is an essential value, while other cultures don’t consider it in the same way as we do. But not considering the act of eating as an essential experience also reflects a way of thinking and living. What we would love to do is to show our international readers how valuable this moment can become.

Despite food being the main source of inspiration for Alla Carta, your approach to it is through design, a completely innovative way. Is there anything in particular that keeps food and design related?

This is a question we often ask to the designers we interview. Let’s start from a really easy concept: when we eat we do it by using designed objects, as well as when we’re cooking. We could say this thought could be repeated over and over again, so that the design is something which englobes everything around us. This is not an immediate thought but interesting to think upon. On the other hand, we would like to quote Martino Gamper (talented interior designer based in London) who stated that in cooking there are as many recipes to cook a meal as there are millions of ways to design an object. As mentioned before, food is one of those things we all equally experience and, for this reason, it can be approached in very different ways. The one we wanted to focus on with Alla Carta was design.

When we talk about design we also talk about fashion. How did you develop the relationship between fashion and food?

Since the beginning we knew fashion would have a huge influence in our project, as the three of us come from experiences strictly related to this world. You can find a reference to it in our issues, coming out during Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. However, the creative process of fashion editorials is always following the issue’s main theme, the concept is then developed and improved during the shooting. In this issue for example, we chose to make a reportage of a dinner with 12 guests, following the theme of “emphaty”. By bringing together design, cinema, art and fashion we want to create a product going beyond the simple showcasing of clothes. What we would like to achieve is to give our readers something more complex, giving them the sensation that they are part of a story.

Which fashion brands best represent Alla Carta?

Céline, Prada and Rochas.

The food re-interpretation is an issue we often hear about with the upcoming new ways of eating: biological, vegan, healthy. Is Alla Carta a promoter of this way of thinking or more a return to the primary importance of the act of eating together?

The second option for sure. Alla Carta promotes the tradition and the importance of eating together rather than a supporter of new ethics about food. We are living in Italy, a country that has the chance to have an old food tradition, and this has certainly influenced our way of thinking about eating. We don’t want to take a position about food; quite the opposite, we want to analyze everything around us, the new trends of eating (good or bad) included. If we would act differently, the risk would be to put ourselves limitations that, with time, could be worthless.

Until now, Alla Carta has been developed around the South European food interpretation. Have you ever thought about exploring other countries ways of eating?

Yes we did, but it is not a project for the near future. First of all, we would like to give our readers a strong idea of who we are and where we go. More often than not, it happens that in the rush to develop a new idea the outcome results less interesting than what we wanted. This is something we would like to avoid. Besides, we want to keep our identity and point of view while analyzing other cultures. Despite the immigration phenomena still being a delicate question in Italy, we don’t discard the idea of exploring other type of eating rituals from our Italian culture. At least, food is one thing we all share.

If our readers were going to visit Milan, would you have a restaurant to recommend?

Of course we do. Let’s say something typical: Trattoria Arlati.

And a meal?

Risotto al salto con l’ossobuco.

WORDS
MARTA STRINATI

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