Food is a serious business in Italy, a part of national identity, as evidenced by the scandal over how to make carbonara sauce.
Luca Cesari, a culinary historian and writer from Bologna, faced a stream of insults on the internet after posting a video on Instagram presenting the original version of carbonara, considered a classic in Roman cuisine.
Cesari’s carbonara, made from Swiss Gruyère cheese, garlic, bacon, and scrambled eggs, sparked controversy. Cesari claims it is the original recipe published in an Italian culinary magazine almost 70 years ago, attempting to illustrate how the recipe evolved over decades. ‘I simply reinterpreted the 1954 carbonara presented in Cucina Italiana magazine. I’m not to blame if that was the carbonara recipe!’ he told Reuters.
‘Over the years, there have been numerous variations of carbonara recipes, including ones with raw ham in the 1950s. In the United States, you can even find versions with clams or mushrooms.’
Alberto Grandi, another culinary historian who faced criticism for questioning established Italian culinary traditions, came to Cesari’s defense. In his own Instagram video, he accused ‘gastronationalism that hinders Italians from calmly reasoning about topics related to our cuisine.’
Other examples of what Italians consider food heresy include pairing pasta with ketchup or adding pineapple to pizza, as well as the prohibition of ordering cappuccino after lunch.
Cesari remains steadfast and is ready to ignite new culinary debates. ‘That was just the first video… Preparing a new one about the traditional Neapolitan pizza from the 1800s with clams!’