Italian Food in London: I’ve Seen Things

Italians are food-nazis. We cite, as an excuse, the fact that good food plays a pivotal part in our culture and we snort in derision whenever we encounter a subtle variation on the dishes of our tradition, usually coming from our Nonna’s recipe book. As a general rule, expanding our horizons and trying out new flavours would benefit us greatly. Still, some of those variations are closer in kind to a butchery of our culinary tradition than to a little twist on the recipe, and in those cases, it is hard to maintain a curious and peaceful attitude.

Since becoming an Italian Abroad, I’ve seen things that you people wouldn’t believe.

I’ve seen a supermarket billboard suggesting to add instant coffee to your spagbol, and I felt very offended and protective towards the poor spagbol, even though Bolognese sauce usually goes with tagliatelle.

I’ve seen a flatmate tossing her pasta in a pot full of dubious Bolognese and letting in re-cook in that slop for five long minutes. I guess “al dente”, unlike maths, is only an opinion.

I’ve seen parmesan on pasta with fish, more pasta paired with orange juice and countless taste buds committing suicide.

I’ve seen the outrage in a first date’s eyes, in telling me that when in Italy he ordered pepperoni as a starter and he got served peppers instead of the salami he expected. Here I do get the translation problem but guess what, we did not click!

I’ve seen a flatmate cooking slices of Parma ham in the pan, together with his eggs, because “it’s like bacon, but leaner”, and I promptly deliberated never to let him touch my prosciutto, lovingly imported from Italy.

I’ve seen variations giving very orgasmic results: a sandwich with fried chicken, kale, mozzarella and crispy Parmesan; mac’n’cheese, oh-so-floppy and oh-so-good! So for the sake of multiculturalism, when I’ll cook pasta with fish for a foreigner, I’ll also offer him/her some Parmesan. Next time I see Parma ham fried in a pan, though, I’ll unleash the inner food-nazi.

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