Fit Female Reading Menu

And this week in Feminine singular, we sit down with journalist Silvia Barba, who has just published the book “When they touched the sky”, recounting the days when the Spanish team won the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. After that, we chat with chef Emanuela Gornati, an expert in creating menus tailored to athletes.

The chronicle of an exploit

Those summer weeks of 2023 will be remembered as the weeks when the Spanish team touched the sky after winning the World Cup. The team arrived at the tournament surrounded by controversy after the resignation of “the fifteen” just a few months prior. “They surprised us all, even the most optimistic journalist,” Barba says. But all the adversity they faced only made them stronger. “Even the defeat against Japan, which in a final phase is a disaster, was useful for them. They say it themselves: every time they got up from a fall, they stood up stronger.”

Silvia Barba signing copies of her book at the Madrid Book Fair

For Barba, the word that best defines these 23 soccer players is “maturity”. “Although they are very young, they have all taught a life lesson, each in their own way and also as a group,” she says. And this attitude has been transferred to society, showing that women can play and win as well as men, and that they can live freely. “Thanks to these women, I am also freer,” Barba admits. “I have learned to talk about all topics more freely. They talk about their partners and their lives with complete naturalness. How nice that a book takes us to this situation of freedom under the protection of sport!”

Emanuela Gornati, the athletes’ chef

Nutrition for elite athletes is essential for optimal performance, both during training and in competition. But the foods recommended by nutritionists are not always the most appetizing. That’s where Gornati comes in, an Italian-based chef in Valencia who creates menus tailored to athletes. “We must take into account the effort athletes make and create a good team with the nutritionist, doctor, and staff,” she explains. “The chef must translate the nutritional guidelines into dishes and make them appetizing, especially when a competition lasts several days or weeks.”

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Emanuela Gornati, the athletes' chef

Gornati has been preparing menus for elite athletes for some time. She is an executive chef for athletes at Miobio healthy food, a project that combines her passion for cooking and well-being. Through this project, she works with professional athletes and helps over 35 clubs improve the habits and nutrition of their teams.

The menus vary depending on whether they are pre-competition, recovery, or maintenance. But for Gornati, the basic characteristics for preparing the menus are the quality of the food, its combination, and the way of cooking. “Cook in a ‘clean’ way, preserving the nutrients as much as possible without aggressive cooking, maintaining texture and color,” she advises. “We have to play a lot with the way we cook.”

To achieve this, Gornati confesses that she makes a “kitchen that’s a bit ‘cheating'”. “For example, the nutritionist wants broccoli to be introduced into the athlete’s diet, but broccoli is not so loved by athletes,” she explains. “What we do is try to combine it with ingredients that go together well, that share flavor molecules and that generate a combination much more pleasant to the palate. And we also change the shape and texture. We transform it into a more visually appealing dish and combine it with ingredients that enhance its flavor and make it more attractive.”

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