The Study of Taste
Gustologia is a mouthful, and we want to keep it that way.
At gustologia we know that our name is not the easiest to pronounce!
noun [ U ]
A taste, a flavour; energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment that is experienced by someone taking part in an activity; a study of tastes
FOUNDER & PRINCIPAL GUSTOLOGIST
Saluti or greetings from the world of “gustologia”. This term I have come to coin has all to do with the subject of taste and the study of it. Taste can be an individual’s perception, but it can also be analyzed, and dissected and judged on various merits if we wish to get more analytical or cerebral.
It’s no coincidence that an Italian term was chosen as these are my deep roots, which go back to my grandfather who was a producer of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Parma, Italy, my father Adriano’s birthplace. This exposure to cheese making would become my father’s business idea to emigrate to Canada, to found A. Bertozzi Importing Inc. with a “partita di Parmigiano” which is basically a small fortune in aged cheese! My father unknowingly became a pioneer like some of his contemporaries of the 1950s, by bringing his Italian food culture to an unknown land, and to a Canadian market that knew nothing of his province of Emilia-Romagna, or its authentic Italian food.
My mother Elvira was also an immigrant, and desperately escaped from a war torn zone of Istria. Both my mother and father met and married in Montreal, which was the largest urban centre of Canada. She refined our taste in both food and fashion, with her delicate demeanor and stellar chef-like cooking in my childhood home. I was to find out later that she was shipped off to Italy to learn by her mother-in-law’s side all the secrets of classic Emilia-Romagna dishes! And she was an excellent student both in the kitchen, as well as in her beloved studies of literature at the University of Toronto.
For some time gustologia became my own personal journey, opening up a chapter in my life, and closing another which has always been centered around great food, family and dear friends, incredible travel, fabulous art and design. As the youngest child in the Bertozzi family, we grew up without many fancy things, having a frugal father. But as a family we were well taken care of, and the best Italian food was always numero uno. I still recall running through an old warehouse in Toronto on now well known Liberty Street, which was a very dingy and derelict area at the time. I would scoop out Dufour candies from a box, like lemon-y Selz Sodas, which were the precursor to sour, fizzy treats. Or indulging in then mostly unknown Gianduiotti chocolates, which were always so heavenly and smooth. Growing up we were never denied these sweets, and as a result we rarely felt the need to over indulge later in life.
A laughable childhood story etched into my memory is one of a hot Toronto summer day, playing with my amichetta on our neighbourhood street. We went inside my kitchen to the fridge, searching for a glass of something cold, and what did we find but a bottle of typically fizzy, salty, San Pellegrino mineral water, which in the sixties my father's business imported. We drank this water regularly at home. Once my friend tried it, her face puckered, she spat it out, and exclaimed, “What’s that?” It was at that moment I started to realize that food that was perfectly “normal” to me like little gherkins, or formaggini or Chinotto (or mineral water!), or eating Bertozzi canned octopus or sardines for lunch, were just part of the unusualness of my family life at the table. We ate pretty much everything on our plate, we did not drink Kool-Aid, and we never knew the likes of Cheez-Whiz. Our bread (we called them Michette, a term from Emilia-Romagna) came from St. Clair Avenue, and we ate salad after dinner as a third course, but never as an appetizer. For my father, a shot of espresso (no cappuccino in the afternoon hours) was a ritual after a leisurely Sunday lunch.
Weeknight dinner usually began with my father’s arrival home from work, often after visiting his best client and friend, Nick Ventola, of the then famous Italian café in Toronto, La Sem. Occasionally my dad would take me out in his big Oldsmobile, with the eight track and leather interior, to visit a client or go for an afternoon ride. I closely watched his personal relationships at work and I knew that this was sincere, it was the old school way he preferred to conduct business, and his word, his integrity, and his goodwill meant everything.
Searching out great food became part of a time to travel, which extended to making contact with many remarkable people, and the good fortune of wonderful and interesting life experiences. Travel is important to expand the mind, and my curiosity and thirst for knowledge have been key to a desire to constantly explore. All that we understand about food has a basis in history, and a long background of tradition, language and culture. If one does not know these things, what one consumes will be lost and unappreciated. Those who have reinvented and innovated have always studied the past.
Gustologia’s mission is to offer up not just amazing food, but also life experiences, whether it’s simply that tremendous moment of tasting something extraordinary, or traveling abroad to find a new food adventure. Life truly is short, so don’t wait on that special voyage! We can take care of all the details, while educating, having fun, and transporting the mind, body and soul to a time and place which will create lasting memories and great stories to re-tell.