Most distressing abuse of Italian food is having ketchup with pasta
Other practices that are frowned upon in Italy yet enjoyed by Brits include having garlic bread with a pasta meal, drinking cappuccino after an Italian meal and including cream in carbonara sauce
A new international YouGov survey identifies 11 ‘food crimes’ committed against Italian cuisine by Brits and the rest of the world
A 2018 YouGov survey found that Italian cuisine is the world’s most popular. While that may prove a point of pride for Italy, a new international YouGov survey shows that in the UK and elsewhere in the world, many people are treating the cuisine in ways that will make Italians weep.
YouGov have compiled a list of 19 ways in which foreigners have been accused of abusing Italian food and asked people in 17 countries and territories (including Italy) whether they were acceptable or unacceptable.
Of the list of 19, Italians see no problem with: eating pizza for lunch (+89); having Bolognese sauce with spaghetti (+81); eating pizza with a fork rather than your hands (+69); and having meatballs with spaghetti (+58). Figures shown are net results, with positive numbers meaning more people say it as acceptable than unacceptable, while negative numbers mean more people consider it unacceptable than acceptable.
Another four are divisive to Italians: having risotto as an appetiser or side dish (+2); putting oil in the water you are cooking your pasta in (+1); snapping dry spaghetti before boiling it (-1); and adding plain pasta to a plate or bowl and then adding the sauce afterwards (-4).
11 culinary concepts from the list are judged by Italians to be crimes against their national cuisine.
The most distressing abuse of Italian food is having ketchup with pasta, scoring (-82) overall. While people in 11 of the countries and regions surveyed think that pasta and ketchup is perfectly fine, Brits (-33) disagree.
Putting pasta in cold water and then boiling it also drives a knife through Italians’ hearts at (-71), making it the second biggest violation of Italian cuisine. Britons are less negative towards it (-17), however.
Having pineapple on a pizza – the basis for the infamous ‘Hawaiian’ pizza – is the third worst thing you can do to the national cuisine, according to Italians (-63). Brits (+24), though, happily agree to this combo. Only in France, however, do people tend to agree (-15) with their Mediterranean neighbours.
Having pasta as a side dish is the fourth most bothersome cuisine issue for Italians (-55). However, respondents in all other countries and regions surveyed believe this is ok. Overall (+35) Brits think it’s acceptable while the French are the most enthusiastic about having pasta as a plat d'accompagnement (+74).
Other practices that are frowned upon in Italy but generally accepted everywhere else are rinsing or cooling off cooked pasta under cold water, drinking cappuccino after an Italian meal and having garlic bread with a pasta meal.
Young and old are at odds over some food rules in Italy
The results show shifting generational attitudes within Italy towards national culinary practices. The biggest comes with drinking cappuccino after a meal, something which 18-24 year old Italians tend to think is fine (+24), but which older age groups – and especially the over 55s (-36) – say is unacceptable.
Young Italians are also substantially more likely than their older peers to say that having garlic bread with a pasta meal, adding plain pasta to a plate or bowl and then adding the sauce afterwards, and having risotto as an appetiser or side dish are ok.
At the same time, younger Italians seem to have turned against adding oil to water when cooking pasta. Those aged 18-24 (-37) and 25-34 (-26) tend to consider this unacceptable, whereas their elders tend to see it as fine (+12 among those aged 55 and above).