Simmering below the surface, of course, was a debate that undermined the whole enterprise: whether you need to be Italian to cook Italian best. I won’t ID the chef who said, offstage: “You cannot make poetry in a language not your own.” My contention that the best way to nurture Italian cuisine in the world is to keep it vibrant at home sounded pretty trite even to me, but that later led to a fascinating discussion on the effect immigration is having on Italian food in the “homeland.” I heard a persuasive argument that the country had made a mistake after its birthrate dropped to near zero in letting foreigners move in because those newcomers don’t assimilate; they “cling to their curries” and shun the holy trinity of pork, wine and cheese for either religious or cultural reasons. But then I heard an even more persuasive argument that these newcomers don’t go on to open restaurants catering to their fellow resettlers but only places with menus the market will reward: Italian. (No one seemed happy to hear what Albanians have done, especially to pizza, in NYC.) Rolling out of Parma, though, I think I got the last word. Why are restaurants in Rome so horrible? The parents who run them cannot persuade their children to take over, so they hire immigrants in the kitchen who just aren’t trained. I stepped out of the car feeling strangely uplifted. The problem is universal. . .