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Grana Padano


Joe Bastianich, co-owner of Eataly New York at the opening of the Nutella Bar.

I was in Naples with chef Aira Piva recently, on our way to Vico Equense where the next Italian Cuisine in the World Forum, will be hosted during the annual Festa organised by Gennaro Esposito. Almost by chance we ended up in the Mattozzi Pizzeria (via Filangieri). Mattozzi is a historic name of Pizza in Naples, so we decided to enter. The pizza and the sfizi were edible. At the end Chef Aira (he was born in Milan) asked the waiter for a memorable Neapolitan Espresso. Surprised and almost upset the waiter said: “We don’t serve coffee here” and mumbled a number of unconvincing excuses. I couldn’t believe to my ears. We then asked for a dessert and another waiter suggested their “Special” Torta di Nutella. I exploded: “What’s going on here, I asked”. Are you going to totally sacrifice our identity? If in an outpost of Neapolitan cuisine there is no Espresso and the dessert of the house is Nutella, we really have some problems here”. The head waiter listened to my grumble and with a patronising tone replied: “Times in Italy are changing”, almost to say “Where are you coming from you troglodytes?” I felt ashamed, not for me, but thinking of the hundred thousands of people all around the world that are embracing the culture of espresso, believing that it has its roots in Naples. I smelled the decadence. Presenting Nutella as a kind of typical, gastronomic ingredient is a bit too much for me. Nothing against Nutella itself but little of Italy remains inside that product today. I know that respectful food writers as Gigi Padovani present Nutella as a made in Italy product but that’s true only in Italy. Nutella in the world is a much globalized product, made in 11 different countries, with ingredients (as palm oil) that have nothing to do with Italy and its culinary traditions. On top of that, up to now the worldwide marketing of Nutella has avoided to push any link with Italy. I was twice upset; for what had happened at Mattozzi, and two because just yesterday I read that starting May 12 New York City´s Eataly will be replacing its wine store with a Nutella Bar (there is already one at Chicago’s Eataly). Definitely “times are changing” but as Cicero wrote “O tempora o mores “- Oh what times! Oh what customs!