Peacocks and culatello

This was a nice little boondoggle: I was flown over to be on a roundtable on the future of Italian cuisine in the world, but thanks to my digital bocca grande no one apparently really wanted me to say much. And no wonder. As I kept thinking, I went to an Italian forum and a hockey game broke out; I only managed to toss a crottin in the punchbowl. Emotions were running hot, on whether Italian is overpriced in Asia, whether Michelin ratings are skewing things (or is it the internet?), whether sushi is mucking everything up, whether emigration has actually done the most to unify Italy (as the left-behinds cling to their regional styles). I did enjoy the strident push-back once someone in the audience brought up “molecular cuisine.” The best response was that it’s not a cuisine but a technique — if you can produce a better bollito misto with sous vide and mirrors, WhyTF not? And I’d say the Herbaceous Chef made the smartest point: Technology has been very, very good to winemaking. You could still do it in amphoras, but why not avail yourself of science? Dinosaur piss is an elusive elixir.