Skip to main content

Cooking al fresco, a project of recipes full of hope.

For our “Stories of food behind bars” let’s talk today about cooking at Fresco, a project to collect recipes created by inmates.

Presented in the Lombardy Region in the presence of the creator Arianna Augustoni, the President of the Regional Council Alessandro Fermi and institutions of the prison world:

  • the Regional Defender, Carlo Lio,
  • the Regional Provider, Pietro Buffa,
  • the director of the Como prison, Fabrizio Rinaldi.

Experimented in Como at the Bassone prison, the project was so successful that it now extends to all Italian institutes, thanks to the tenacity of the creator Arianna Augustoni.

From the “Mandato di cucina” of Como, to the “Diary of flavors” of Bollate, to arrive at “Savor (I love) freedom” in Varese, up to “Mani in pasta” by Opera.

These are the four workshops that share a single and only project: Cucinare al fresco, or a collection of recipes made strictly behind bars.

The authors of the initiative are not great chefs or even professional writers, but four groups of inmates who got involved in creating a publication dedicated to food.

An experiment started two years ago at the Istituto del Bassone di Como, thanks to the then director (now in Varese) Carla Santandrea.

It was a long way from Como: the idea entered the Bollate prison, for women, in Varese and now also in Opera, with a collaboration recently started with Alba.

The initiative is coordinated by Arianna Augustoni and, for some weeks now, the project has been fully operational in all Italian penitentiary structures with the approval of the DAP, the Department of Penitentiary Administration and the coordination of the Lombardy Prap.

The project is not just a cooking workshop, but it has a deeper value because the inmates during the lessons tell about their emotions, hopes, difficulties and in some way savor freedom through the stories of food that each one brings from their experience. of life.

The initiative was born precisely to bring outside the flavors and aromas of cooking lived behind bars, a cuisine that is not simple even from a technical and instrumental point of view.

As he explains in detail the creator Arianna Augustoni the cookbook is a challenge for those who, as a prisoner, agree to write a part of themselves through a recipe:

“With food, this path has led to a result and, just as music has a universal language, cooking has also proved to be a tool to unite the thousand faces of the world”.

In the 24 pages of the magazine, now in its third issue in February 2020, you will find interesting suggestions, quick and tasty ideas to serve on the table for any occasion.

There is no shortage of recipes that belong to the Niger or Philippine cuisine, while the cous cous Moroccan compares with the Tunisian one.

“Cooking al fresco is also an encouragement to never lose hope, an invitation to look beyond and to think of being able to contribute, with small gestures, to actions that always and continuously encourage us to do something good”

President Fermi spoke with evident satisfaction:

“Just like when in the kitchen we put our hands to the stove, giving space to creativity and imagination and trusting that others will appreciate what we have been able to achieve. And the dishes and dishes contained in these pages, although cooked in confined spaces and with camping stoves, certainly have nothing to envy to those proposed by MasterChef or starred chefs “.

At the beginning each Institute had its own publication, then everything went online and the “recipe writers” now work on a unique editorial product that unites them, puts them into play and makes them work trying to reach ever higher goals.

From simple recipes for beginners, we move on to more elaborate dishes, to those dishes that, with just a few ingredients, warm the heart and bring back to good thoughts, to moments spent with the family.

In addition to telling the preparation of each dish, it is explained how one must strive to build and put into practice a recipe, with what tools and times, always very delayed throughout the day.

Days in which training projects are fundamental, as the Guarantor for prisoners recalled Carlo Lio, ensuring full support and support for the initiative.

“There are all the ingredients to be able to make a leap in cultural and social quality. People who try their hand, demonstrate unsuspected skills and knowledge and are able to make a cuisine that is different in its poverty, but not in its taste and degree of elaboration “

the regional superintendent Pietro Buffa reiterated.

“The desire is to give them a word so that they can propose the result of their ingenuity to the outside, showing that being in prison does not mean losing or having lost the skills that each of us possesses”.

From the ingredients in the cart, to those of the shopping cart, passing through what comes in from the outside, the cookbook and the magazine are a journey of life and hope.

In the kitchen, the preparation of a dish is a language that has united prison inmates and united them to achieve an important goal: to demonstrate that they too know how to do something unique.

One way to restore hope, and doing it through food is perhaps the best nourishment for the soul and spirit!

Cucinare al fresco is now a newspaper registered in the Court of Como and, the realization of the project was possible thanks to the contribution of Eye Communication, with Alessandro Tommasi and Giuseppe Bevilacqua, who followed the graphics.

A goal achieved thanks also to the support of many Associations and Banks who have offered their contribution.

Another delicious and meaningful testimony to be included in our Food Stories behind the Bars.

Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

Leave a Reply