First there was “amatriciana-gate” after a prominent chef in Italy dared to put garlic in the sauce of the adored pasta. Then another famous Italian chef committed a crime when he put butter in pasta al pesto. Then the Brits were not amused when the Italians claimed that fish and chips were brought to the United Kingdom by Venetian immigrants. (See previous posts.)
Now another chapter in the culinary wars…this time between France and Italy. On the You Tube channel, Demotivateur, which is a French “infotainment” site with a section dedicated to food, appeared a video-recipe of a French pasta alla carbonara. The whole process, however, contains a series of striking errors: the entire cooking is in a casserole, atypical of this type of pasta, and then the addition of cream, not to mention how the egg is added, and the general choices of ingredients—pancetta and parmesan in place of guanciale and pecorino.
It was a total disaster that aroused ire on the web. On the site’s facebook page, Italians wrote: “Don’t mess with the carbonara,” “Horror,” “ Completely mistaken preparation,” “a sacrilege to her majesty the Carbonara.” There is nothing like food to provoke indignation and upheaval in Italy.
To add insult to injury, the video-recipe was apparently sponsored by the Italian company, Barilla, complete with the brand name at the end of tutorial – on a box of farfalle not spaghetti, which is the traditional pasta for this dish. Barilla distanced itself from the video with this response: “Mon dieu! We are open to all creative interpretations of the mythic Carbonara, but this is over the top…désolé!”
“The Carbonara Inflames Italy” was one of the headlines of the daily newspaper Le Parisien, and the article at the time noted that the video had already been seen 1.3 million times. An Italian writer responded, “France has always screwed up Carbonara…it’s as if we made boeuf bourguignon with lamb and white wine.”
The controversy that raged for days on the web has threatened to break the Franco-Italian friendship. “Too often we forget that the diplomatic relations between two countries are built on a…vermicello….Years of hard work to maintain a peaceful and friendly relationship can be destroyed in a few seconds” And in precisely 32 seconds on this video, which, by the way, has been removed from the Demotivateur website.