The “cucina bianca” no longer holds any secrets for him. Patrick Teisseire fell into it when he was little and he wants to share what he learned. The owner of the Auberge Saint-Martin in La Brigue has just launched a concept that gives pride of place to “white cuisine”. Traditional cuisine linked to transhumance and handed down for generations in the upper Roya valley and Piedmont that the innkeeper wants to (re)discover.
His idea was selected in February by the Ecological Transition Agency (ADEME) as part of a call for slow tourism projects. Like the 72 other winners, Pascal Teisseire will receive aid of 65,000 euros to implement his project within 18 months of his selection.
The restaurant area is already in place, but the project should be finalized in the fall. In the meantime, the boss details the recipe for this ancestral cuisine.
A transhumance kitchen
“In the high valleys of Piedmont, Liguria and the Alpes-Maritimes, lands of pastoral and agricultural tradition, the inhabitants have developed a particular cuisine called ‘‘cucina bianca’ for the lack of color in his dishes. This culinary tradition is based on the local products of the agro-pastoral civilization: flour, potatoes, leeks, turnips, dairy products, legumes, wild food or aromatic plants composed on the transhumance paths.
“Shepherds’ wives cooked according to what they got and planted vegetable gardens according to where the herds went, adds the restaurateur from La Brigue. The recipes are simple, being originally made in basic shelters called ” Malghé ”along the course of the herds, and generally consistent in a single dish, which does not require long preparation, but a certain know-how.”
A protected know-how
He cites “sügeli” – typical pleated pasta made of water and flour and accompanied by “bruss”, made from fermented picota -, and “tuma” sheep or goat cheeses. “The sügeli have been listed as intangible heritage of France since 2009..
“In order to protect the products of the Maritime and Ligurian Alps, a route called”Strada della Cucina Bianca – Civiltà delle Malghe” (the Route of the Cucina Bianca – civilization of the sheepfolds) was incorporated, depending on several villages on either side of the Italian border. One of them, Mendatica, every year at the end of August celebrates the Festival cucina bianca with gastronomic routes through the alleys of the old town.
Stays and hikes
This is what Pascal Teisseire would like to develop at home. His inn is located on this famous road. It offers discovery stays (stays can be booked now at www.aetnature.com). A seven-day hike with six half-board, five lunches and supervision by a mountain guide for €692 per person ., note) of the white kitchen but wants to go further in the experience.
He imagines starting from the places of production of the ingredients, going to meet breeders and shepherds, exploring and harvesting vegetables and herbs from market gardeners. He dreams of picking wild food plants, of night hikes on transhumance paths. An initiatory passage to then learn how to make dishes and taste them.
Le Brigasque even specified to create a cross-border slow tourism stay, a demonstration and initiation workshop to sügeli and local fresh pasta. The work of his workshop was done in March, but the installation will not be operational until the fall, like the majority of the activities. “That’s also slow tourism”points the Brigasque.
In the meantime, you can always try the culinary experience. The Auberge Saint-Martin offers a special “cucina bianca” menu at 30 euros, with fresh products, 100% homemade, according to tradition.