Grace: "Good morning! Today I'm taking you to Chiavari, where I tried one of the best gelaterias in Italy - in my opinion - and I also managed to interview the gelato maker who told me some secrets about gelato. If you're interested in the topic, stay with me and let's go!"
Elena: "Hi, my name is Elena, I was born here in Chiavari, in Liguria. We're on the sea, so - like all good Ligurians - I'm a sea lover. I make ice cream for a living, one of those things that maybe all kids have always dreamed of. Maybe someone wants to be a dancer, but I've always been a lover of ice cream and I decided to study to do what I loved when I grew up. Before getting something of my own, however, I did a lot of trials, I did a lot of hard work, I peeled a lot of fruit. I also traveled, and in my various travels I worked in many places. I was in London for 6 years. I worked in a very beautiful gelateria, which actually gave me the opportunity to understand what was missing perhaps in my gelato culture. And I discovered the search for the ingredient to make a better product because abroad, perhaps, especially for an Italian who goes abroad to eat ice cream, it's already a given that it will never be as good as at home, so the search for the ingredient, where I was working, was fundamental to make an Italian come back to eat it. So I had to understand what was behind it, the chemistry, the ingredients, how to make it have a pleasant texture, that it wasn't too fatty, too heavy, that it could be digested... A lot of questions, and I had to study to answer these questions because no one knew how to answer me."
[Grace: "You're not alone, who is Matteo?"] Elena: "He's my trusted madman, he's actually my husband in recent years. We met in London at work. I was the gelato chef, he was in the restaurant and we met doing stock-taking in the warehouses and doing inventories for him. Then, you know, fate - right? - when you say you're not looking for someone and I had already made the ticket and given the notice of termination to go live in Australia and he followed me. A line of planets aligned and we came back to Chiavari."
[Grace: "What were the biggest challenges in opening or before opening the business?"] Elena: "Well, finding a location that had a good compromise between price, feasible rent for us, and foot traffic. And then we were lucky enough to find a new area of the city where there was nothing... There was no one yet, so we managed to slip in and make a little something tailor-made for us."
[Grace: "Where does your environmental attention come from?"] Elena: "Working in the sector, I always saw the empty plastic cup bags that were thrown away at night. And I tell you, in a big city like London, it was embarrassing to see how much garbage every activity produced, I mean, we with the cups, the restaurant and the bar next door with the take-away drinks. So there I had already started to feel a bit of rejection, so to speak, and I informed myself about alternative materials: paper and compostable materials. So already from there my process started, also much more ecological in daily life, reusing things, giving new life to everything because living in big cities maybe made me see how much garbage we produce every day. And from there came the name of the place, in the sense of working with local materials, wasting as little CO2 as possible, polluting as little as possible during transportation. What our land gives us: that's where Pachamama comes from. My husband spent a lot of time in South America and tattooed it on his arm, Pachamama."
[Grace: "What kind of ice cream can we find at Pachamama?"] Elena: "I like plants, I like flowers, I like scents, I like playing with flower infusions, with teas, with citrus peels, with things that are perhaps more from the kitchen, in the sense... Today I made lemon and sage, which in Italy is usually used to make butter and sage, that is, a ravioli, a tortellino. It's fun, it's maybe the creative part. It makes me want to create something new every day, it's not repetitive. Then of course there's the balancing part, in the sense of giving creaminess, giving texture, which even by looking at it closely you can tell if it's done well or not (the ice cream, that is). Always be wary of mountains of ice cream! You know, when you see those big, colorful, flashy things... On average, they have more pastel, more subdued colors. Oh, another trick: if the ice cream makes you very thirsty, it's not that good."
[Grace: "What places around Chiavari would you recommend seeing?"] It may not be a "wow" village, but a romantic and beautiful walk, with the cliff and everything... I like Zoagli, which is small, a hole, it has a little square, the railway bridge above it, but they have the entire walkway on the cliff which is very pretty. Then there are areas outside Genoa that are forgotten by God but are very beautiful. Actually, Genoa also has the line of forts that if someone had time to take a walk one day, the forts of Genoa are very beautiful. Well, on the other side there's the old village of the Smurfs that has been abandoned but can still be reached, and it's also on Google Maps. The village of the Smurfs... There was an old man, a crazy man who had decided to decorate a piece of forest with all kinds of mushrooms like the Smurf house, then it was a bit abandoned but you can still reach it, it's a path and you can get there."
[Grace: "No cappuccino after lunch, right?"] Elena: "Yes, I mean, unfortunately, that's how it is in our culture. I've normalized this thing, we make cappuccinos even in the evening, and those few Italians who drink it - and do it secretly - feel safe with me. Because we don't judge you, because I'm the first one who drinks it in the afternoon too. Ssshhh, let's not tell anyone otherwise we'll make a big stink about it. So, maybe avoid asking for it with the pasta dish!"