Looks like the foodie wars are still raging.
“It is strange to be famous all over the world for a dish that isn’t ours,” [the Mayor of Bologna, Virginio Merola] told the Telegraph. “Of course we are happy that it draws attention to our city, but we would prefer to be known for the quality food that is part of our culinary tradition.”
The succulent, meat-filled triangular tortellini for example, or even mortadella, a deli pork meat that has inspired knock off products known as “baloney” – and often spelled “Bologna” – in the US.
Under the leaning towers and pastel porticoes of the city known for good food, leftist politics and its ancient university, it is a colossal foodie faux pas to ask for Spaghetti Bolognese.
Waiters grimace, look perplexed and repeatedly explain to tourists that the dish they are referring to is locally called Tagliatelle al Ragù, or Tagliatelle Bolognese, a flat, handmade egg dough pasta covered in a slow-cooked meat sauce that also has bits of celery, carrots, onions, tomato sauce, slowly simmered with wine.
Spaghetti Bolognese has sparked heated online controversies as exasperated Italians try to defend the proper Ragù alla Bolognese – with tomatoes and red wine as key ingredients.
Viewers complained vociferously on social media in 2017 when Mary Berry, former Great British Bake Off star, made the Italian classic on her BBC Two show using garlic and adding thyme and cream.
Had she attended the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2016, Ms Berry would have been forewarned that herbs were a no-no by Italian gastronomy expert Antonio Carluccio.
“When you think Italy, you start to put oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, which is not at all [right],” Mr Carluccio told festival participants.
Not only are there no herbs nor garlic, it simply cannot just be slathered on just any kind of pasta. Bolognese Ragù is one of the chunkier sauces, hence served with sturdier pastas like tagliatelle or tortellini, but, ironically, never spaghetti.
There’s more at the link.
I don’t know how many truly authentic regional cuisines have survived. For example, I’ve eaten Indian food (under the catch-all name of “curry”) in over a dozen countries, and it’s been subtly (or less subtly) different in every one of them. What’s more, a lot of it has been cooked by Indian people, so there’s no cultural appropriation involved! As for Italian food, South Africa has a very rich heritage in that regard, stemming from the tens of thousands of Italian prisoners-of-war who were detained in that country during World War II; but again, variations have crept in until “real” Italians might be astonished to find some of the dishes under their traditional names. I don’t mind – I just enjoy it all!
As for spaghetti, I’m not going to get involved in the war of words. I want my pasta with no strings attached.
(Aaaand . . . if one is taken prisoner in the food war over spaghetti, is one in durum vile?)