The Culinary Provincialism of Italians

People that work at Tasty must have a tough job. Their fast paced cooking videos are often the target of hordes of angry Italians, who feel the need to defend their cuisine from the insults of barbarian mixes of ingredients and cooking styles.

It is not the widespread corruption, or the fact that we have had countless change of governments without the courtesy of a proper democratic election, what really enrages us are videos of one-pot Pastas (recipes where everything is cooked in a single pot and the pasta is not drained)6

If you thought that the comment section of Justin Bieber videos was a nasty place, you need to check Tasty’s one. Mattia says that “not even ISIS has damaged western civilization as wildly as this recipe”; Oscars claims that watching the video has made his grandma sick; Diego hopes that his woman (of course it is not the man doing the cooking) would at least compensate the lack of cooking skills with some sexual favours; Nicholas gives us the precious information that he is Italian and that the video has offended his culture.

Fortunately there are also other types of commentators: people who have actually tried the recipes and found them easy and tasty, and people that kindly ask Italians to avoid being rompipalle (i.e. a person who breaks people’s ball with pedantry).

4

Carlton Banks (we suspect that this may be a nickname and that the character from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has better things to do) has the most popular comment on one of the one-pot pasta videos, probably because he expresses the feelings of lots of people: “watching food videos on Youtube has made me fucking hate Italian people”. Others instead prefer to point out that, as stated in the Geneva Conventions, everybody has the right to cook in whatever way they want, that pasta may even have Asian origins, and that you can’t claim the copyright on an ingredient or a recipe in a globalized world

It seems absurd that Italians want to impose their way of cooking and regulate what is probably the oldest mix in the kitchen, water and flour. I don’t see, for example, hordes of Chinese invading Italian cooking videos involving rice, even when they drain the precious starch away (which is a blasphemy in most Asian cultures). Mexicans do not flock to Facebook and Youtube videos to complain about burritos and fajitas, even though the current recipes are only vaguely Mexican.

The problem lies in the fact that lots of Italians tend to be too dogmatic and provincial with respect to food. They believe that lots of the rules that they have are universal and godgiven, while they are arbitrary and often not actually logical: why, for example, do Italians look at you disgusted if you order a cappucino after the meal (“it’s too heavy and bad for the digestion!”), while they are ok if you go for a tiramisù with extra mascarpone? (And a grappa as a digestivo after that will apparently put you in a position to run the Roma-Ostia half marathon).

Let’s hope that if they keep on traveling (or watching and commenting videos on internet) , some people may start to understand that you can survive a plate of carbonara with cream or a pizza with some pineapple; they will hopefully learn that Italian recipes may need to be adapted to local tastes, or even completely transformed, as happens with spring rolls and sushi in “Chinese” and “Japanese” restaurants all over Italy. Who knows, one day they may even try One-Pot Pasta and find out that it’s not that bad after all.

 

5 thoughts on “The Culinary Provincialism of Italians

  1. The fact that you don’t understamd the italian inside joke behind the “food-anger” and you feel like you have to make an article about it is pretty pathetic

    Like

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