The last few years have seen a gradual rise in the search for a healthy cuisine which aims to feed not merely the body, but the mind as well. It is this exact principle that ayurvedic cuisine is rooted. And within the pioneers of this philosophy in Italian kitchens, a name which stands out is that of Simone Salvini, founder of the Veg Academy Ghita. Two experiences have proven fundamental for his cuisine: his time at the Joia, the only vegetarian Michelin starred restaurant in Italy, and that amongst Indian temples of Hindu tradition, strongly characterised by a vegetarian cuisine immersed in spirituality. It is this second experience which enabled him to develop a conception of food which nurtures the mind as well as the body.
Ayurvedic philosophy is based on three anthropologic levels: the body, the mind and the spirit. Nutrition becomes the mechanism through which equilibrium between these plains can be established. When eating, it is not solely bodily satisfaction that has to be sought, but mental and spiritual wellness too.
“In order to translate these principles within dishes, I mainly look to the Indian ontological tripartition of foods,” says the chef. In fact, according to this tripartition, foods can be categorised as: fresh and organic, energetic and passionate – such as chocolate and spices – and negative – “defined by Indians as those foods which are born as a sign of ignorance because they worsen the mood and tire man.”
These negative ingredients are all those foods which are the result of the killing of animals and of industrialisation and refinery, since these processes deprive them of their freshness and healthiness. According to Simone Salvini, ayurvedic cuisine uses foods that “maintain a memory. With this, I am referring to all those ingredients, like cereals, legumes and vegetables with a significant nutritional value, which often times gets lost because of the extensive effects of industry.” The complete equilibrium of nutritional values explained by the Chef and the adhesion to ayurvedic tradition is best expressed in the “dark chocolate torroncini”, where each ingredient follows one of six typical flavours of Ayurveda: the sourness of the persimmon cream, the bitterness of the cocoa, the astringent green tea, the sweetness of the almond, the spiciness of the oil and the saltiness of the salt crystals.
Finally, in order to consolidate its position, this kind of cuisine “must not present itself as alien to our tradition, but respect it.