That Italy is a culture of proud machismo is well established. That Italian food is one of the most popular around the world is also fact. Put those together, and you have an extreme sense of nationalistic pride in the country’s culinary offerings—pride that can be so over the top as to create some opportunities for humor at the Italians’ expense.
Spend enough time with Italians, and it can be a great joy to watch their reaction to any creative alterations to Italy’s staple dishes; you will never see any kind of “Italian fusion” being embraced by Italians. You want to try to make lasagna with a cheese other than ricotta? Not here, you won’t. You want to add something fancy like turkey or mushrooms to spaghetti al pomodoro (simple spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce)? That’s just blasphemous. And don’t even think about using a cheese-based sauce with seafood.
Secondly, it can provide a laugh when you erroneously pair ingredients that you are genetically supposed to know don’t go together. For example, if you prefer a seafood-based sauce with your pasta, you use long noodles. If you want meat sauce, that’s when you need short noodles. Get it mixed up, and your Italian friends will have a (comical) fit. While you’re at it, try cutting your pasta with a knife, or cooking your pasta too long so it’s soft and mushy as opposed to the preferred al dente. You may not have friends anymore.
Finally, because Italians are so proud of their cuisine—and indeed, it is the only suitable cuisine on earth—you are likely to get humorously defensive reactions when you suggest that while Italian food is good, you prefer Peruvian, or Thai, or Japanese, or Lebanese. Just rubbish. Have they actually tried those other cuisines? Doesn’t matter…you’re not only wrong, but silly for even suggesting such foolishness.
And when you do encounter this, it’s only fitting to laugh, given that over-the-top pride exemplified even from the country’s leadership—among his many other blunders, Silvio Berlusconi managed to offend an entire country (Finland) by knocking their cuisine while serving as Italy’s Prime Minister.
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