No Such Thing As Italian Cuisine
As I began my Italian Cuisine course, I was astounded at the fact that to an Italian there is no such thing as Italian Cuisine. This being extra ironic as I learned that Italian Cuisine does not exist in an Italian Cuisine course. Though this may come as a shock to a lot of you as it did for me, Italian Cuisine in the view point of an American consists primarily of pizza and pasta. At least those are the foods I immediately think of when referring to Italian Cuisine. Italian Cuisine in the view point of an Italian does not exist. Instead they divide their cuisine by their specific region. For example, in Torino they have Piedmontese cuisine. Instead of cuisine remaining consistent throughout Italy, cuisine is divided by the twenty regions in Italy. Each region cooks their pizza and spaghetti and gnocchi and so on vastly different from another region.
As stated by Marcella Hazan, a famous writer on the food of Italy: “the first useful thing to know about Italian cooking is that as such it actually doesn’t exist. ‘Italian cooking’ is an expression of convenience rarely used by Italians.” As I have learned in my Italian Culture class, there is not much nationalism within Italy. Instead, regionalism remains most prevalent. It was stated in one article I read in Italian Culture that: “most people express loyalty more to a town or village than to the state or even the administrative region.” Where I thought I encountered an Italian instead I’ve met the Piedmontese, the Florentine, the Sardinian, the Milanese, the Neapolitan, and the Bolognese.
Norberto Bobbio, a veteran political philosopher, explains how “Italy is no longer a nation in the sense that in the new generation there no longer exists a national sentiment. Italy has become little more than a geographical expression and the Italians are becoming once more a common mass with no name.” I was surprised by this statement and even more shocked when out of 406 students surveyed, 41% of them were in complete agreement with Norberto Bobbio’s statement. Although, over half (58%) did feel national pride during sporting occasions such as the World Cup Finals and the skiing champion, Alberto Tomba. A famous quote from Massimo d’Azeglio: “With Italy made, we must now make the Italians.” This statement made after the unification of Italy in 1861 points out the division that was apparent in Italy. Although, there is patriotism revolving around food and football; the food still vastly varies across Italy.
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Richardson, B. “Questions of language”. In The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture. Eds. Barànski, Z. and West, R.J. Cambridge UP, 2001 (pp. 63-79).