Italians take their food seriously, and rightfully so—it’s one of the world’s most beloved cuisines. But a recent spat over what makes a proper amatriciana sauce might leave you wondering where they should draw the line.
Amatriciana is a sauced pasta dish with a 1,000-year history that originates from the town of Amatrice. Traditionally, the sauce is made from cured pork cheek, tomatoes, olive oil, white wine, chile and pecorino cheese.
So when, during a recent TV appearance, Italian celebrity chef Carlo Cracco admitted that he used a secret ingredient in his amatriciana, the people of Amatrice freaked out. What is this controversial extra ingredient? A touch of sautéed garlic.
Cracco’s statement created immediate backlash from Amatrice officials. The town’s deputy mayor, Piergiuseppe Monteforte, told The Guardian, “If you use ingredients like garlic or onion in an amatriciana, it means you are ignoring a pastoral tradition that is almost 1,000 years old, passed down from generation to generation.” And the town’s official Facebook page posted, “We are confident that this was a slip of the tongue by the celebrity chef, given his professional history.”
Amatrice went so far as to even release the official recipe for amatriciana, pre-emptively striking down anyone who wants to try something creative in the kitchen. Turns out making a true amatriciana isn’t as easy as you’d think: The cured pork cheek, known as guanciale, must be from Amatrice.
Cracco isn’t a novice chef. His eponymous restaurant in Milan has earned him two Michelin stars. But leave it up to a big-time chef in Milan to try to ruin the tradition of a small town. I mean, have you seen what people in Milan have done to fashion? They’ve tried things on the runway that are way worse than a couple extra dashes of garlic.
[h/t Grub Street]