Italians Find Their Cuisine in Foreign Hands

Immigrants more and more the backbone of foodie nation's cooking

By Eleanor Villforth,  Newser User

Posted Apr 8, 2008 5:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – While immigrant-staffed kitchens are the norm throughout Europe, Italians regard their food as an integral part of national identity. So what to make of the fact that the best carbonara in Rome is made by a Tunisian chef? The ensuing debate—whether Italian cuisine made by non-Italians is authentic—is likely to grow, reports the New York Times.

“If he is an Egyptian cook, nothing changes—nothing,” says one restaurant owner, whose staff of 10 cooks includes seven immigrants. Still, others argue that these chefs can only mimic Italian food. “Tradition is needed to go forward with Italian youngsters, not foreigners,” says a restaurateur who employs several Bangladeshis but handles the cooking herself. “It’s not racism, but culture.”

The International school of gastronomy in Parma. Italian restaurants may divide into two camps: elite restaurants staffed by Italian chefs, and lower-end trattorias run by foreign chefs.   (Magnum Photos)
Given the current pace of change, cooks in low- to middle-level restaurants in Italy may be almost entirely non-Italian within a decade.   (AP Photo/Ivan Tortorella, file)
Restaurants have become a boon for immigrants, as Italians increasingly shun the sweaty, low-paid work.   (Magnum Photos)
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