The recipe by Kay Chun in the New York Times seemed harmless enough—a modified version of the traditional Italian pasta dish of carbonara. Chun, however, has whipped up quite a bit of outrage among chefs and foodies in Italy over her "Smoky Tomato Carbonara," reports the Guardian. The main offense is in the recipe title. Carbonara has just four ingredients—egg, pork jowl, pecorino cheese, and pasta—and tomatoes are not among them. Chun "maybe had no idea the culinary third rail she was about to touch," writes Barbie Latza Nadeau in the Daily Beast. Reaction ranged from the comical ("the worst thing to happen to Italy since Super Mario tennis") to the official, with the Italian farmers' association Coldiretti calling this the "tip of the iceberg" in the "falsification" of Italian recipes.
"The real risk is that a fake 'made in Italy' dish takes root in international cooking, removing the authentic dish from the market space, and trivializing our local specialties," says the group. Celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and even Martha Stewart also have run afoul of purists for relatively minor tweaks to their carbonara recipes, notes the Daily Beast. Stewart, for example, earned an Italian headline with the phrase "nightmare carbonara" for the offense of adding garlic. "I follow the NYT on Instagram and thought it was a fake," a leading chef in Rome, Alessandro Pipero, tells the Guardian of Chun's version. "It would be like putting salami in a cappuccino." In fairness, Chun did acknowledge in the intro to her recipe that tomatoes aren't traditional in the dish, "but they lend a bright tang." At the Takeout, Lillian Stone takes note of all this and thinks Chun's recipe sounds like a winner—"it just isn’t carbonara. Mamma mia." (Read more recipes stories.)