Watch at your own risk. May cause vomiting.
Yesterday I saw a truly disgusting spectacle: Renata Polverini, Presidente della Regione Lazio, feeding rigatoni to Umberto Bossi in Piazza Montecitorio in Rome. If you don’t know who Bossi is, he’s the founder of the Lega Nord, current Minister of Federal Reforms, shameless racist and raging asshole. In this recent piece for the New York Times, Rachel Donadio describes his party in a far more diplomatic way than I ever could: “It makes the Tea Party in the United States look quaint.”
The photo-op turned spoon-feeding was meant to solidify peace between Bossi and the populus romanus, the former having created a stir last week when he expressed his own take on the ancient acronym SPQR, declaring sono porci questi romani (they’re pigs these Romans). Bossi has long criticized Rome and Romans, so his comments aren’t much of a surprise. Nor was the Roman reaction. The city doesn’t take too kindly to having its honor insulted (sono permalosi questi romani?) and Rome’s Mayor Gianni Alemanno called for an apology.
In my opinion, a simple “A Bossi! Piatelanderculo!” would have sufficed. But to smooth things over Alemanno and Polverini hosted a lunch in front of Parliament, which was part feast and part farce. Polverini stirred a bubling cauldron of polenta, gastronomic symbol of Bossi’s north, she shoveled pasta into his mouth and Alemanno attentively lit his cigar. The trio drank wine from Frascatti and Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, they ate parmigiano reggiano, cicoria ripassata, and coda alla vaccinara. The wine and food of north and south were the backdrop for the so-called patto della pajata, a modern day Pax Romana that was an awkward, contrived, and sickening display of political pantomime.
Food was just a prop in this ridiculous spectacle, but Rome’s chefs made it the protagonist, offering typical dishes of the cucina romana to mock Bossi’s presence in the city. Ristoro degli Angeli, Retro 2, Da Danilo, Checco er Carettiere, Osteria di Checco, Roscioli, Quinto Quarto, L’Arcangelo, Ottoemezzo, Gianni Cacio e Pepe, Da Felice, and Giuda Ballerino all got in on the action.
But, sadly, all their hard work can do little to erase the truly revolting scene of Polverini feeding Bossi. If there was anything on earth that could turn me off of food, it is those two people engaged in any type of interaction, much less defiling a favorite pasta dish. I think I can speak for all witnesses when I say the whole scene left a bad taste in the mouth.