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Can Carbonara Be More Inclusive?

8:57 AM EDT on April 6, 2023

a scene from Open Carbonara short film

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for carbonara, the beloved Italian dish consisting of spaghetti, guanciale, eggs, Pecorino and black pepper. First, the Financial Times publishes an interview with Italian food historian Alberto Grandi, who claims that several key Italian dishes, including carbonara, aren’t actually Italian inventions. 

Now, for Carbonara Day, today, April 6, the pasta maker Barilla has released a new short film and an “alternate carbonara recipe” meant to showcase carbonara as a more inclusive dish. 

The nearly 4-½ minute film, “Open Carbonara,” shows a multicultural group of chefs hitting the kitchen to develop versions of the famed dish that will allow those with dietary or religious restrictions to enjoy it. The chefs, Marco Martini, Asma Khan, Giulia Tomelleri, Jasmine Guetta & Manuel Kanah, and Victoire Gouloubi, create variations for halal, kosher, vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free carbonara.

Purists may want to avert their eyes, as will those who consider this a “woke” marketing strategy. But we at Appetito applaud Barilla for sharing the message that Italian food should be adaptable and enjoyable for all. 
Barilla has bigger plans for the message too. Their marketing copy states, “This is only the beginning of a cross cultural and inclusive project: The “Open Recipes” platform… [which] will feature hundreds of pasta recipes suitable for various diets, and will continue to be developed to cater for as many people as we can.”

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