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Quirk of history

The fascists who hated pasta

Italy’s Futurists, a 1930s movement celebrating all things mechanical and modern (including fascism), were fiercely opposed to pasta, says Josh Mcloughlin in Engelsberg Ideas. At a dinner in Milan in 1930, which served such forward-thinking dishes as “ice cream on the moon” and “roast lamb in lion sauce”, Futurism’s founder Filippo Tommaso Marinetti declared: “Futurist cooking will be free of the old obsession with volume and weight and will have as one of its principles the abolition of pasta.” The Manifesto of Futurist Cooking, published the following month, labelled pasta “an absurd Italian gastronomic religion”.

Furious debate broke out across Italy. The Duke of Bovino, mayor of Naples, asserted that “the Angels in Paradise eat nothing but vermicelli al pomodoro” (pasta in tomato sauce). Other Neopolitans “protested violently in support of pasta”, and in San Francisco, “a riot sparked at an Italian restaurant caused several casualties”. But some people agreed with Marinetti. “Pasta is like our rhetoric,” wrote fascist theatre critic Marco Ramperti. “Only good for filling up our mouths.”