World Pasta Day
Nobel scientist has sparked outrage by advising Italians to cook dinner pasta without gas Image Credit: Shutterstock

It is a debate that has divided Italy — and the social media — right in the middle. The advice by one of Italy’s top ranking physicists to save gas by turning it off when cooking pasta has prompted fury and outrage from pasta lovers and chefs alike.

In a video shared to social media, the Nobel Prize winning quantum theorist, Giorgio Parisi, 74, recently recommended that Italians add pasta to a pan of boiling water, bring it to the boil, wait two minutes, put a lid on, and then switch off the gas.

What followed next was widespread outrage in Italy. Many Italians, who take their pasta seriously, took to social media to express disbelief that someone — even if that is a prominent Nobel laureate — would dare suggest something as outlandish about a beloved national dish.

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Image Credit: AFP

Most of chefs joined the chorus, strongly contesting the theory. Local Italian press quoted multiple pasta makers, chefs and culinary experts as saying that pasta cooked by turning the heat off once the water is brought to the boil would turn it gooey and rubbery.

Parisi, a ranking scientist from Sapienza University in Rome, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking contributions and “the discovery of the interplay of fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”, suggested that “at least eight minutes of energy consumption” is saved by using this method.

He added: “The most important thing is to keep the lid on, a lot of heat is lost through evaporation. After boiling the pasta, put the gas on minimum, so that it boils very little without consuming energy.”

A beloved food

Most restaurants immediately pushed back, refuting the possibility, with the unanimous concern being that Parisi’s suggestion would compromise the consistency of pasta — a product firmly rooted in Italian culture. Spaghetti, Macaroni, Bow ties, Penne and Ziti are some of the more popular pasta varieties globally.

The Mediterranean climate of Italy is perfectly suited to growing fresh herbs, resulting in the Italians creating a range of a delicious variety of pasta sauces over the years.

Italy’s noted chef Luigi Pomata was quoted by media as saying: “It would be a disaster. Let’s leave cooking to chefs while physicists do experiments in their lab.”

Parisi’s recommendation have come in the wake of Russia’s state-controlled natural gas supplier, Gazprom, announcing that its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which supplies gas to much of Europe, would remain closed indefinitely.

Most of Western Europe faces the prospect of severe blackouts as energy supplies dwindle.