Yours Truly: How to Feed an Angry Italian
One look at my last name and you’ll see I have full rights to address the issue at hand—the Twitter account called Italians Mad at Food. And let me tell you, I identify. Mannaggia! (This is my aunt’s favorite Italian expression of curses.)
What’s my street cred, you ask? Besides the third-generation Italian American heritage (we originally hail from New York but you’ll find many of us in Philly and a select few in Baltimore—if you know, you know), it may come as no surprise to you that one of my only restaurant jobs took place at Olive Garden. I am well versed in Hospitaliano, and Hosptialia-NO, the latter of which I think is what Italians Mad at Food specialize in.
What angers my ancestors in the homeland? It’s simple really— wiz on pizza, mozzarella in melon salads, fettuccini alfredo, over-sauced pies, over-cheesed pastas, and the list goes on. To Italians Mad at Food, these are all offensive bastardizations of Italian cuisine.
Sometimes I can relate. My most despised example of Italian-American fusion? Buffalo chicken pizza. Do not get me wrong, I love wings, I was raised in what I call the poultry capital of the U.S.—Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Frank Perdue may roll in his grave for this one, but chicken does not belong on pizza. Keep your buffalo wings for your football games to the side if you must. Even that could cause all of Italy to die of disgust, so they say. I agree, I cry one tear for each chicken pizza ordered by friends, and that is a lot of tears. You see, I am a pizza purist and this is heresy. I will, however, dance with the devil for a slice of pineapple and bacon. But to Italians Mad at Food, this would have Nonna, rest her soul, doing somersaults in the mausoleum. “Before eating a pizza with pineapple on it, an Italian would prefer to die,” says an anonymous Isabella in a screenshot on the feed.
Laughs aside (and it will give you many, just keep scrolling), this Twitter account demonstrates an actual challenge for Italian restaurateurs today. The Italian restaurant segment is growing, gangbusters, no pun intended Al Capone. While authenticity is something for all segments to strive for in courting the millennial audience, one Italian-American menu misstep could have your guests taking to the internet with disgust, or at least doubting the quality of your menu. They’re a tempermental crowd, to say the least.
I’m writing to tell you that the Food News Media family is here to help (because when you’re here, you’re family?). We’ve launched a new publication called Sapore, the definitive magazine for restaurateurs in the Italian segment. I don’t know about you, but my Italian grandmother used to say, “There’s always money in pizza.” So if pizza and pasta, or perhaps more nuanced regional favorites, are in your future, head there for the latest news and trends to get your Italian business running.