Italian food historian raises carbonara controversy

Italian food historian raises carbonara controversy

ROME (Reuters) – Food is serious business in Italy, part of the national identity, as evidenced by a row that erupted over how to prepare carbonara pasta sauce.

Luca Cesari, a food historian and author from Bologna, faced a stream of online abuse after he posted a video on Instagram serving what he said was the original version of carbonara, considered a classic of Roman cooking.

Ditching the usual ingredients of Italian pecorino cheese and bacon to mix them with eggs to create a creamy sauce, Cesare’s carbonara is made with Swiss Gruyere cheese, garlic, bacon and scrambled eggs.

Cesari said he returned to the original recipe, which was published in an Italian cooking magazine about 70 years ago, and was trying to show how the recipe had evolved over the decades.

“I simply recreated the Carbonara of 1954, the first piece to appear in Cucina Italiana,” he told Reuters. “It’s not my fault if this is the Carbonara recipe!”

“Over the years, a series of different recipes for carbonara have emerged, including one that used raw pork in the 1950s. In the United States, you can find versions with oysters or mushrooms.”

Alberto Grandi, another food historian who has been harshly criticized for questioning long-established Italian culinary traditions, came to Cesare’s defense.

In his Instagram video, he denounced what seemed like “a national culinary trend that prevents us from thinking calmly about the topics of our cuisine.”

Other examples of what Italians consider a food novelty include mixing pasta with ketchup, or adding pineapple to pizza, in addition to imposing a de facto ban on ordering cappuccino after lunch.

Cesare remains steadfast and ready to stir up more culinary controversy.

“This was just the first video… I’m making a new video about traditional 19th century Neapolitan pizza with clams!”.

(This story has been corrected to say scrambled eggs, not fried eggs, in paragraph 3)

Reporting by Francesca Picioneri; Edited by Keith Weir

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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