Last year I read a newspaper article entitled “The First Scandal of the Mayor of New York.” No, the scandal was not a sexual relationship with an intern (as in Clinton), nor hiring of prostitutes (as in Spitzer), nor multiple love interests (as in Hollande). No, the scandal was not embezzlement, nor inappropriate use of funds, nor corruption. After all, Mr. de Blasio, the new mayor of New York, had been in office only 12 days.
The first citizen of the Big Apple committed a gross culinary gaff. In the course of a meeting in a pizzeria on Staten Island called “Goodfellas,” Mayor de Blasio was captured on video eating pizza with a knife and fork. It is a scandal, above all in New York, where it is considered good manners to use your hands exclusively to devour a slice. For some commentators, the honeymoon was already over for Mr. de Blasio.
In response to the protest, the mayor said, “I was trying to be faithful to my Italian origins.” The owner of the pizzeria, Mr. Costentino said: “I believe that he only wanted to be polite.” For other tenants of Gracie Mansion, from Bloomberg to Giuliani, pizza was always eaten with the hands, even if only for the benefit of the press and the Italian-American electorate. (As an aside, Mr. Bloomberg never lived in Gracie Mansion.)
But, to be honest with the new mayor, an analysis of the video of the entire lunch shows that at a certain point, Mr. de Blasio opened his mouth wide and threw inside a big bite of pizza holding the slice in his hands.
In pizzerias in Italy, are knife and fork used? Indeed, says Corriere della sera. According to my Italian friends in Santa Barbara—Gabriella, Giuseppe, Luigi, Jacopo, and others—how do you eat pizza in the United States and in Italy? Both ways!
In any case, it would be wonderful if political scandals were always this innocent.