Italian Gastronomy Eyes UNESCO Recognition
The culinary artistry of Italy has officially thrown its hat into the ring for UNESCO’s World Heritage status. Following the recognition of the art of pizza making in 2017, the entirety of Italian cuisine has been a candidate for UNESCO’s intangible heritage since March 23, 2023. With five agri-food recognitions already awarded to Italy, the aim is to acknowledge the local customs and knowledge that accompany Italian gastronomy.
Italian Gastronomy at UNESCO
Italian gastronomy, a global sensation with its iconic pasta, pizza, tiramisu, risotto, and pesto, is yet to take a bow on the stage of intangible cultural heritage.
With 54 sites already basking in the UNESCO spotlight, Italy is among the star-studded countries, second only to China. The Italian gastronomic performance, from the Mediterranean diet to the art of pizza making, aims to protect and preserve the cultural practices and traditional know-how.
Italian Gastronomy, A Mosaic of Traditions
Francesco Lollobrigida, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, put forth Italian cuisine’s bid for UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage on March 23, 2023. It’s not just the gastronomy of Italy that’s under consideration, but the entire spectrum of ‘local customs, rituals, and practices steeped in local wisdom’ that are aimed to be preserved as part of the intangible cultural heritage. The Italian government wishes to weave the Italian cuisine into the UNESCO tapestry as a reflection of the cultural biodiversity of the Belpaese and the richness of its terroir, synonymous with excellence, authenticity, and sharing.
This aspiration emerged from the shadows of the pandemic and lockdown, a time when flour and yeast became scarce commodities in Italian supermarkets. Italians, confined to their homes, began to recreate their beloved restaurant dishes, particularly pizza, underscoring their unwavering devotion to their culinary heritage. Through its UNESCO bid, Italy yearns for its culinary traditions, cherished and passed down through family generations, to be acknowledged as the shared ritual and the collective heartbeat of a people who see food as a cultural cornerstone of their identity.
Italian Gastronomy, A Diverse Cuisine
With this candidacy, it’s not just Italian cuisine that’s being championed, but the “sum of various local cuisines” of the Peninsula, as explained by Paolo Petroni, president of the Italian Academy of Cuisine and member of the committee that developed the candidacy project. These local cuisines rely on the richness of their terroir and their products, from the mountains to the sea. Italian gastronomy is thus diverse and deeply rooted in its territories where cooking is an art taught from an early age within the family.
Unlike French gastronomy, Italian cuisine is a “casalinga” cuisine born in homes and meant to be shared, which explains the visceral attachment Italians have for their culture and their cuisine. The response from UNESCO, which will not be given before 2025, is eagerly awaited, especially since the origins of some famous dishes and products of Italian cuisine, such as tiramisu, carbonara, or Parmigiano Reggiano, are being questioned.
Italian Gastronomy and Pellegrino Artusi
Pellegrino Artusi is the first writer to have gathered in a single collection the everyday recipes from all regions of Italy. A work, still today, considered as the bible of Italian cuisine and a reflection of local food customs and traditions. Every year, in Forlimpopoli, Pellegrino Artusi is celebrated on the occasion of the Artusian Festival, the festa artusiana. This festival, established in 1997, is a gastronomic event aimed at honoring the legacy of Pellegrino Artusi, who continues to influence modern cuisine.
The 2023 edition honors Italian cuisine and its candidacy for UNESCO’s intangible heritage. From Saturday, June 24 to July 2, the biodiversity, the richness of Italy’s gastronomic heritage, and its historically popular and peasant roots will be celebrated.
This Rustic Spaghetti recipe is a classic Italian dish that brings together the simple yet flavorful ingredients of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Cooked in olive oil and finished with a sprinkle of Parmesan, this pasta dish embodies the essence of Italian home cooking as advocated by Pellegrino Artusi in his book “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well”. Enjoy this delightful and hearty meal that’s easy to prepare and satisfying to the palate. Buon appetito! 🍝
Rustic Spaghetti: Spaghetti “alla rustica“Course: Pâtes, platsCuisine: ItalienDifficulty: Facile
340 g of Spaghetti
300 g of San Marzano Tomatoes
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Bunch of Basil
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Bring the water to a boil, respecting the rule of 1 L of water – 10 g of salt – 100 g of pasta.
- Wash and cut the San Marzano tomatoes in half. Peel, remove the germ, and mince the garlic cloves. In a sauté pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add the garlic and brown it without burning it. Add the tomatoes and basil. Salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the tomatoes have released all their juice.
- Cook the pasta in boiling water for half of their cooking time.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauté pan with a ladle of their cooking water. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Lengthen with cooking water if necessary.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add the grated Parmesan and mix well. Serve on a plate with some basil leaves and grated Parmesan.