What happens when USA Today invites Italian cooking expert Marcella Hazan to a meal at Olive Garden?
From the article: Everyone looks glum. “I must console myself,” Marcella says. She orders a Jack Daniel’s.
As this article indicates, it’s easy to poke fun at Olive garden (and, one would presume, all Corporate restaurants). But this is the marketplace in which we reside. We in America think manicotti and spaghetti and meatballs are Italian dishes (they are not, as the article indicates). Restaurants like this (and others, such as Chi-Chi’s and a vast array of Chinese and Teriyaki joints) thrive here in the United States because they they give us what we want. What the marketplace gives us is not authentic Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese foods, but rather what we think Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese foods should be.
As Marcella notes “There are 60,000 recipes in Italy. Why do they have to invent new ones like Lobster Spaghetti?” Olive Garden must “guide and teach” its customers, she says.
But Places like Olive Garden will not “guide and teach” until it’s determined to be profitable to do so. It’s up to the consumers to dictate this by voting with their money. How? by frequenting restaurants that do provide authentic meals and diverse menus. You’ve heard the phrase “buy locally” when purchasing groceries and farm products, but how about “eat globally” when frequenting restaurants? When going to your local Italian joint, don’t go for the tried and true, but look for items you’ve never tried before. Ask questions about the menu. Read! In short, educate yourself about what you eat!