Living Pakistan/Praying for Alfredo

The Italian-American Joe Bastianich is often said that the world is divided into two categories: Italians and those who dream of it.

A statement would sound so arrogant if Bastianich was not one of the entrepreneurs of the business of food among the most famous in the world. And no doubt, like China, that Italy is synonymous with food everywhere you go. Nothing new here, except for the fact that (for once let us write in favour of expats) in some countries (such as Pakistan, in this case) some Chinese cookers are, while those Italians far fewer.

In Pakistan, I can say that there are only two Italian chefs: everything else is not even a pale imitation of the local cuisine. I do not speak of refined dishes or processed but spaghetti with tomato sauce, for example. I do not blame anyone, if not to pretend to the poor customers of the restaurants that what they are about to eat is the same meal that is served on Italian tables.

We come to some absolutely myths: the first deserves more than a description, rather than a prayer in favour of Alfredo, the inventor of the famous spaghetti (or fettuccine, depending on the mood of the menu creator). Created in 1914 by a Roman restaurant (there is still a restaurant that bears his name) it is one of the simplest pasta that can be achieved, seasoned with butter and Parmesan cheese. Foreigners who came to Rome in the 50s fell in love for and exported it, so to speak …

Today spaghetti Alfredo are present in the menu of the entire planet, except in Italy. Not only that, but the description of the recipe  that appears in the menu is the result of the most wild and perverse fantasies: there are chicken, eggs, mushrooms, broccoli, cream and why not, ketchup … For Pakistanis wishing friends, is how to find the fish into byriani rice:)). So for Italians in Pakistan it becomes impossible to eat something for which one feels homesickness, except for a sole and exclusive place that we do not name so as not to advertise it.

My friend R. and I boldly go in search of some possible truth in the present Italian dishes on restaurant menus Islamabad, despite her please not I succumbed. So we tasted spaghetti with tomato sauce so peppered to mine the comprehensibility perception of flavours; pizzas as high as a wedding cake, and of course fettuccine Alfredo (and bolognese), on which we have already said so. And even some amenities language: it is clear, no criticism, even in Italian restaurants for tourists translating English menu sometimes leaves something to be desired, but “Penis-paste” left us baffled and really have not had the courage to ask how could look like the pasta.

Moral: if you are Italian and not feel like cooking at home get yourself invited to some other fellow. If you are Pakistani or foreign, give up Italian cuisine, because it is not what you will eat here. And finally, if you know that the caterers and Italian dishes are very popular, supplicate one of our national chef to come to work here or to educate a large Pakistani brigade of chefs. We’ll be forever grateful.

A prayer, indeed ….