Italy is calling for ‘food ambassadors’ to stem the worldwide tide of insults to its culinary glory. A new survey by the Italian Academy of Cuisine (AIC) has painted a nightmare scenario of pizza; spaghetti; meat and fish dishes spoiled by incompetent cooking or cavalier disregard for Italy’s traditional recipes.
Among the horrors AIC found were "baked fish in pesto sauce’; apparently popular in the Netherlands; and a raft of ‘pasta salads’ that have Italian tourists in fits. "We must train a new generation of Italian chefs to spread the traditions of genuine Italian cuisine; willing to travel and become ambassadors of our culinary arts;"AIC said.
Only half of the cooks in so-called ‘Italian’ restaurants are Italian; said the food watchdog; which has 73 branches in 40 countries. For some reason; the majority of them come from Australia and Mexico. Many are enthusiastic about Italian cooking; of course – but less than a tenth of them have had any training in how to make real Italian dishes.
The result is a patchwork of "tainted; watered-down or souped-up dishes" in countries where self-styled Italian restaurants have taken off. As well as the usual culprits like the United States; Canada and Australia; a host of offenders have been found in Ireland; Finland and Portugal.
France; ever proud of its own cuisine; has no qualms about "Frenchifying" Italian dishes; while German restaurants "go mad on needless herb and spice additions; piling on garlic; balsamic vinegar; rocket and peppers." The result is "a hybrid of Italian and local cuisines; mongrelised dishes that are an offense to Italian tradition".
But foreigners aren’t just cooking up outlandish recipes for flagship dishes like spaghetti with clams; lasagne; ossobuco and saltimbocca. They also serve up cappuccino to wash down first and second courses – an "abomination" AIC is determined to wipe out. "We need a wave of envoys with one mission in mind – to show the world what it’s been missing". ItalianAlmanac
Perhaps Domino’s meat pie pizza could be added to the list?