The Culinary World is Shrinking… Or Growing

Image courtesy of Odbitki

The nature of a recipe is predisposed to fluidity.  What one chef creates another may come along and change.  There are times when change is for better.  There are times when change is for worse.

In search of Rome’s best carbonara last month, restaurant and wine reviewer, Gambero Rosso, found two chefs with superior executions. 

The irony, however: neither chef was Italian.

The runner up was Indian and the winner was Tunisian.  Nabil Hadj Hassen, who migrated to Italy at seventeen, prepared the noteworthy carbonara dish at Antico Forno Roscioli.

As covered in yesterday’s New York Times, the emergence of immigrant chefs in respected Italian restaurants has evoked apprehension with some native Italian restaurateurs and patrons.  The recent tide of immigration, mostly Moroccans, Tunisians, Romanians, and Bangladeshis, has altered the image of Italian kitchens.  Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant in the U.S. or in Europe realizes the situation of immigrants in kitchens.  The underpaid, grueling jobs are more appealing to those who have no other choice. 

This has become truth in Italy.  Immigrants have taken those jobs.  They have also taken the opportunity to learn the techniques and the methods that may afford them to one day become, a head chef.

The issue is, as the article highlights:

            “…Italians take their food very seriously, not just as nourishment and pleasure but also as the chief component of national and regional identity…Will Italy’s food change—and if so, for the worse or, even more disconcertingly, for the better?”

Is the changing landscape, pride aside, harmful to the purity of the cuisine?  The culinary arts maintain a great deal of tradition, and simultaneously, with equal significance, a capacity for innovation.  Does a cook’s cultural familiarity with the cuisine outweigh the execution?

Dining in New York City, or in any other metropolitan city, you’re bound to find a chef preparing a dish that is completely foreign to his or her own national background.  The importance here, as they would insist, is their skill and passion for the food.

With the culinary world shrinking… or growing, it leaves much to be seen for the future of Italian cuisine. 


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