From Robin Goldstein:

I’ve previously discussed the thorny issue of the overzealous advocacy of a traditional recipe to the exclusion of all others. In response to Florence Fabricant’s claim, for instance, that “for any pasta all’amatriciana to be authentic, it must be made with guanciale (pork jowl),” not bacon or pancetta, I responded that “too many food writers construct a counterfactual Italy of culinary dogmatism, a population of finger-wagging guanciale zealots, a nation…harrumphing around about how the world is going to shit now that people are making amatriciana with pancetta…People and recipes aren’t anthropological tokens. They’re living things, the products of neural assemblies and proteins and chemicals bouncing across the ages. Narrow your gaze and squint your eyes too tightly in the search for authenticity, and you might miss that whole, beautiful landscape.”

Perhaps I should revise this statement: clearly, there are some finger-wagging guanciale zealots in Italy. They tend to gravitate, it seems, toward the Ministry of Agriculture. The question of whether “zero tolerance,” when it comes to food, is fascist, patronizing, noble—or all three—is certainly one for further contemplation.

Wine produced around Montalcino can be called Brunello di Montalcino only if it is 100% Sangiovese.  If imposters put Cabernet into their Brunello, and people like it, should the rules of the appelation be vigorously enforced?  You are inclined to say no because people should have what they like.  But if it were that simple there would be no reason for the appelation at all.

It could be that people want to know for sure which wine is 100% Sangiovese (and meets other benchmarks) and which is/does not.  The appelation system allows them to know that without preventing them from having their SuperTuscan Cab/Sanjo blends if they prefer that.

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