Despite what the stormy petrels might have to say about this matriarchal practice to please the patriarchs, it did protect the generations’ old family “brand,” namely, it helped to ensure that Mama-Mia’s recipes wouldn’t be violated and, over the ensuing decades, adulterated to the point they bore no resemblance to Mama-Mia’s cooking.
It’s the same with the classification of wine. Practices vary in different regions and countries of origin, with many practices having evolved over time. In the European Union, for example, some classifications—like appellation, vinification methods, style, sweetness, and vintage as well as varietal used—are officially protected. No serial adulterers wanted. The same with los Cubanos cigars.
It’s not so in the United States, where provincial borders don’t mean very much. For example, there’s Mexican, New Mexican, and TexMex. Each is good in its own right, but flavors tend to blur, especially as people migrated from locale to locale and started adapting recipes. It’s called “fusion” cuisine. Consider New Orleans creole, for example. French? Haitian? Mexican? In the United States, recipes are egalitarian, providing ideas not straightjackets.
Not so, however, in the town of Amatrice, near Rome, where quite the brouhaha recently unfolded. Why? A chef at a famous Milanese restaurant doesn’t prepare his amatriciana properly. Amatriciana is a 1,000-year-old pasta dish that emanates from Amatrice and, just like those EU wine classifications, the people of Amatrice want amatriciana—if it’s to be identified as amatriciana—to be made strictly according to a centuries-old, “traditional” recipe.
Hence, the question: To garlic or not to garlic?
On this one, The Motley Monk sides with Amatricians. The dish is their franchise and their recipe should be safeguarded from serial adulterers like Cracco. Otherwise, amatriciano becomes something other than amatriciano and eventually will resemble Chef Boyardee.
Want to add garlic, onions, and bay leaves, like The Motley Monk fave, Chef Lidia Bastianich does? Go ahead. But don’t call it amatriciano because it’s really bastianicho, just like Cracco’s amatriciano is really cracciano. After all, only method champenoise is method champenoise and a McDonald’s double quarter pounder with cheese had better taste like one whether it’s being consumed in Chicago, London, or Tokyo.
It’s time to seal Amatrice’s borders with a fence to protect the brand from the serial adulterers from Milan, like Cracco. What’s next, the illegal immigrant barbarians introducing tomatoes and chilis into the “traditional” recipe?
Let the discussion begin…
To read about the brouhaha Chef Cracco has stirred, click on the following link: