Unesco cultural heritage: the Carbonara copyright – taz.de

Unesco cultural heritage: the Carbonara copyright – taz.de

Italy’s right-wing government wants the country’s cuisine to be protected as an intangible cultural heritage. Your folkish rhetoric is hard to digest.

Black and white photo of a woman eating spaghetti on a seaside balcony

British tourist in Positano in 1949 with a plate of vermicelli, which originated in China Photo: Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images

The spaghetti alla carbonara is pure Italian cuisine: a grandiose dish with no frills, prepared with only four ingredients – guanciale, the bacon from the pork cheek, Roman sheep’s cheese, eggs and pepper. It was probably recipes like this classic from Rome that are now under the government Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni prompted them to submit an application to Unesco for Italian cuisine to be declared an “Intangible World Heritage Site”.

Two ministers, Francesco Lollobrigida, Minister for Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, and Gennaro Sangiuliano, Minister for Culture, are the signatories to the motion, which aims to “promote the idea of ​​the quality of Italian life, made up of art, culture, landscapes, but also to support oenogastronomic excellence”.

After all, it’s not just any government that has been in office for a good five months now, but a coalition of Meloni’s post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy, FdI), Matteo Salvini’s right-wing populist and staunchly nationalist Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

A coalition of “patriots” that dreams of a new greatness for the country, also at the stove, as State Secretary Gianmarco Mazzi from the Ministry of Culture explains with a generous calculation of the battalions that the government intends to lead in the cultural heritage fight: “Today we open a game in which 140 million Italians take to the field, the 60 million who live in Italy but also the 80 million abroad.”

Parmesan from Wisconsin?

One could argue about this slightly folksy calculation, which includes 80 million people as “Italian” because at some point distant ancestors emigrated to America, Australia or France, but not about the subject of the “game”, which yes now really around the globe Italian cuisine considered excellent.

In any case, there are no great doubts about her. Or is it? Ironically, an Italian key witness tried now Financial Timesto gossip a bit about the Meloni government’s Unesco application. Professor Alberto Grandi from Parma said in an interview there that a lot of “Italian” in the saucepan and out of the oven is not that Italian at all, starting with the carbonara, which was only invented in Rome in 1944 thanks to the US soldiers.

And then he added that the true-to-original Parmesan cheese is now more likely to be found in Wisconsin than in Emilia-Romagna. “Now there are also ‘experts’ and newspapers who are jealous of our flavors and our beauty!” yelped Lega boss Salvini.

Because it is no coincidence that the right-wing government in Rome wants to adorn itself with the “intangible world cultural heritage”. For them, too, this effort is rather “immaterial”, in other words: it costs nothing and makes a wonderful contribution to the profile of the strict nationalist coalition. At every suitable or inappropriate occasion, she holds up the green, white and red tricolor, celebrating the fatherland and the “heroism” of his children with exuberant rhetoric. For example, on the “Day of Remembrance of the Alpini”, the Italian Alpine hunters. Due to a law that was only passed in 2022 at the request of the Lega, it will be celebrated on January 26, just one day before the day of remembrance of the Shoah.

right culture of remembrance

And the choice of date was not accidental. On January 26, 1943, the Alpini defeated the Soviet troops on the Eastern Front; the Lega’s bill stated that “under their heroic commander” they had “rolled down the Soviet resistance like an avalanche”. If that isn’t cause for celebration – to commemorate a day when Italian fascists and the German Nazi army could claim one of their last victories!

The fact that the right-wing “culture of remembrance” is available for free but is anything but harmless was also shown on March 24th, the anniversary of the German massacre in the Ardeatine Caves in Rome, when Nazi henchmen shot 335 men to prevent the death of 33 Germans Soldiers to avenge a partisan attack. The martyrs were killed “simply because they were Italians,” Prime Minister Meloni remembered. Even the mass murder committed by the German Nazis, allied with the Italian fascists, gave her an opportunity to wave the Italian flag.

No, the partisan association, the Jewish community in Rome, and the left-wing parties replied, the 335 men had not been put on the death list as “Italian”, but because they had been Jews or anti-fascists – and Meloni only countered this criticism with the stupid question of whether because the anti-fascists “were not Italians”?

This tour caught on with their electorate, as did the undertaking of this government, which has little to distribute materially, but therefore also pursues “immaterial” free politics in a completely different field, also there with collateral damage: in the field of civil rights.

Deletion of the torture paragraph?

For example, the Ministry of the Interior instructed the mayors to stop the practice, which the government considers unspeakable, of registering the children of same-sex couples as children of both parents. “Children have the maximum right: to a mom and a dad,” Meloni can only think of, and her family minister, Eugenia Roccella, declares in good faith that children from same-sex marriages are “in no way discriminated against,” after all, “one parent” is registered in the registry office.

The government coalition is also demonstrating that one should not overdo it with too many civil rights with the torture paragraph, which was written into the penal code just a few years ago, primarily to protect prisoners from attacks by prison officials.

The Meloni party Fratelli d’Italia has now submitted a motion to parliament to delete the paragraph without replacement because, according to Meloni, it “prevents the civil servants from doing their work”. And when the “work” is done, even with systematic beatings against defenseless prisoners, as has happened several times in recent years, then a plate of “original Italian” spaghetti carbonara tastes all the better.

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