Kansas City Chef dishes it out


Brad Stout/The Chart

Chef Cody Hogan prepares a dish of wild mushroom and truffle risotto.

Robin Fjelstad, Staff Writer

Chef Cody Hogan, chef de cuisine of Lidia’s Kansas City, presented a history of Italian cuisine in Corley auditorium Thursday, Sept. 12, while preparing a dish of wild mushroom and truffle risotto.

He explained the evolution of food preparation as new foods found their way into the produce markets of Italy.

Hogan said it wasn’t until after merchant seamen began returning from North America with tomatoes and corn that the dishes most people consider “authentic Italian cuisine” were created in the kitchens of Italian cooks.

In early times, the normal diet of Italians consisted of grains, vegetables and olive oil.

Those living on the coast had the advantage of adding seafood to their dishes.

As the Roman Empire expanded and contracted and assimilation of cultures took place meat, milk, cheese, and some beer were added to the menu of those in Rome.

“At this time Sicily was an Arab land and this is important to Italian cuisine for two reasons,” said Hogan, “One is because the Arabs are the ones who are responsible for designing dry pasta almost as we know it today. The other was rice … the Arabs brought rice from the east into Sicily and you see quite a few rice dishes in Sicily even today.”  

 Rice and grains were considered food for peasants and more vegetables were consumed in Italy than in the rest of Europe combined. The wealthy preferred a diet of meats and spices.

Before Italy was unified in the late 19th century, regional cuisines did not disperse throughout the country. Once people began to travel more readily they took pizza and dried pasta into other parts of Italy and other countries as well.

Hogan recommends cooking with wines that are good enough to drink.

“Cooking wines are terrible,” he said. “Also it’s nice to have a glass while preparing the meal.”