A food historian claims that pizza and carbonara are American foods, not Italian

EvanRose | New York Daily News

Food history professor Alberto Grandi made some polarizing claims in a recent interview, saying that many Italian dishes actually have more of an American heritage.

Grandi, who teaches at the University of Parma in Italy, told the Financial Times that he had been question the authenticity of certain “Made in Italy” dishes for years, specifically naming pizza, carbonara, and parmesan cheese.

“When a community is deprived of its sense of identity, due to any historical clash or break with its past, it invents traditions to act as founding myths,” he said, hinting that Italy’s food history might be more fiction than reality.

“Italian cuisine really is more American than Italian,” Grandi said in the interview.

The claims have struck a chord with the Italian government. On the same day the article was published, Italy’s Ministers of Culture and Agriculture formally submitted Italian cuisine’s candidacy for “World Heritage” status to UNESCO.

That won’t be decided until 2025, but the ministries also requested that UNESCO recognize Italian cuisine on the 2023 “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizationis a specialized agency of the United Nations that describes part of its mission on its website as promoting “the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage throughout the world considered to be of exceptional value to humanity.”

But now the debate over whose culture belongs to whom is heating up. Grandi reacted to the government’s attempt, telling La Repubblica that there are “a bunch of t-bulls” in the UNESCO application they submitted.

In a separate statement to CNNGrandi explained his excitement around the controversy, saying that part of the idea that Italians immigrated to the US and taught people to cook is offensive.

“They emigrated because they didn’t have enough to eat here, they were poor,” he said. “They left because they were starving. It is offensive to our grandparents to paint it differently.”

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