Cooking pasta off the fire, the technique of a Nobel Prize that divides Italy

Naive, Giorgio Parisi surely thought he was doing the right thing. Or at least not risk much. He then decided to share his science on Facebook: “The most important thing is to always keep a lid on the pan. After the water starts boiling, I lower the gas to minimum. You can also turn it off completely […]. I think the pasta still cooks.”

By taking a thousand precautions – including that of emphasizing that he was merely repeating advice given by someone else – the Nobel Prize in Physics Giorgio Parisi thus suggested that Italians cook their pasta over low heat, even with fire extinguished. A kind of grandmother’s trick to lower the energy bill, but which goes precisely against the precepts taught by a whole generation of grandmothers in terms of cooking pasta. And in Italy, we do not mess with the culinary tradition.

Logically, the debate quickly ignited on social networks, and then, in the press titles: the newspapers called on experts to settle the question.

Thus, in the columns of the Roman daily La Repubblica, “chef Antonello Colonna does not validate Giorgio Parisi’s proposal”. So-called “passive” cooking would lead, according to the man “a soft consistency” pasta. Less chivalrous, the writer Mauro Corona even urged Parisi “not to talk nonsense”, by inviting him “to take care of what he received the Nobel Prize for”, noted Il Fatto Quotidiano, another newspaper in the capital.

Nevertheless, the defenders of the “passive method” are not lacking, and among them is the Corriere della Sera, which, while emphasizing the difficulties of the method (need for adequate equipment, impossibility of mixing the dough so that it does not stick) finally seems to prove Parisi right.

“A recent study promoted by the pasta artisans of Unione italiana food is clear on the subject: using a lid during cooking saves up to 6% energy”, reports the Milanese daily, highlighting the point of view of experts in the sector (who, however, do not comment on the quality of the final product).

Anyway, the method seems functional to say the least, and indeed, even before the intervention of the physicist, many are those who affirm that they already knew the trick. The joke is thus served on a platter: Giorgio Parisi has not discovered hot water.

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