by Alfonso Sarno
Is it possible to entitle a book that talks about savory sauces «Il rigettario»? Certainly, if the author is a man of rare intelligence, expertly sarcastic, an actor with a thousand facets and in love with food, ergo with life, as it was, indeed it is because it continues to be loved, quoted and remembered by audiences of all ages. The artist in question is Ugo Tognazzi, author – in fact – of «Il rigettario. Facts, misdeeds and menus drawn with a felt-tip pen».
The volume – published in 1978, recently re-edited by Fabbri by Delia Agenzia Letteraria enriched with prefaces by his sons Thomas, Gianmarco, Maria Sole and Ricky Tognazzi – was presented by the latter together with Luciano Pignataro, Ernesto Iaccarino, chef of the restaurant starred “Don Alfonso 1890” of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi and by Domenico Credendino, president of the Carisal Foundation in the Hall of Frescoes of the San Michele complex in Salerno during the third appointment of the literary review “Inhabitants of the time. The civil commitment of literature”..
To complete the whole video intervention by Simona Izzo, wife of Ricky and daughter-in-law of the fake surly Ugo who also spoke of the book «4 sisters, 8 marriages, 9 divorces» written with eight hands with the sisters Rossella, Fiamma and Giuppy.
«There are those who re-read love letters or contemplate images from the past, I, who find all this rather funereal, look at the menus of the past and rejoice: you can always revive a dish, reawaken a flavour, feel an aroma ». This is the philosophy of taste of the famous actor, hieratic/despotic priest of the stove – he had to choose everything, control everything – whom his family found, in the morning, kneeling in front of the enormous old-fashioned refrigerator with small windows, in adoration of meats, cheeses and vegetables which then blended into the foods described in the «reject book» and not the recipe book because he wrote: «…I reject everything that in gastronomy and in the culinary art – with all due respect to the Great Experts, the Venerable Soloni – is conventional, pre-established, codified… The people I generally invite are all of age and have no scruples, precisely because of that “philosophy of rejection” I mentioned, of refusing this or that dish or the entire menu, because “reject” also wants say rejection of the prejudice according to which «the master is offended if you don’t eat».
A big lie, actually, revealed by Richy Tognazzi. «Every Friday evening there was the supper of the twelve Apostles. He invited twelve friends, among them Mario Monicelli, Leo Benvenuti, Paolo Villaggio and, the only woman, Iaia Fiastri, who judged the individual dishes with a vote that ranged from extraordinary to – let’s say – a particularly strong and colorful judgement. Once, after the third negative result, my father interrupted the vote, collected the notes, sealed them in an envelope. When I asked him why he had done it, he replied that he would take them to a graphologist to discover the enemies.’
Scene worthy of Count Raffaele Mascetti, the character played by Ugo Tognazzi in the cult film «My friends» directed by Monicelli but who is the indicator of the great love and respect that Tognazzi had for his role and for the cuisine he rigorously conceived at kilometer zero. «It’s true – continues Ricky – he collected books, studied and loved sharing them with friends and virtually with the public. He was among the first show business personalities to divulge them on television and with the books he wrote ». “Il rigettario” with the 18 menus he created, accompanied by the date on which the lunch or dinner was held, the story of the banquet, the colorful menus he wrote and designed for each of the guests, together with the 22 new recipes additions best exemplifies the philosophy of life and taste of the great Cremonese actor, king not only on stage and screen but also in the kitchen.