When Futurism and Fascism Clashed With Pasta In Italy

Cooking, politics and history all converged

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti Sitting At A Desk
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian poet, writer and dramatist, sitting at a desk with some Futurist magazines.
Mondadori via Getty Images

There are plenty of ways to track the history of a particular moment in time. The food and drink consumed during a particular period can reveal a lot about those years, as can the rise and fall of various political movements over a given stretch of times. Sometimes those can converge — and in the first half of the 20th century, Italy witnessed a bizarre convergence of all of these things.

If you spend much time researching Italian art or literature from this period, you’ll start to notice an unpleasant trend: many artists and thinkers involved with the Futurist movement eventually adopted fascism as their political credo. Among them was one Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, founder of Futurism and author of several books, including The Futurist Cookbook.

Said cookbook is like no other book of its kind, with surreal and conceptual recipes abounding in its pages. In a 2016 article for Literary Hub, writer Amanda Arnold observed that the book “feels like one of the century’s biggest artistic jokes.” But to read it is also to get a preview of the unchecked nationalism that would soon curdle into fascism for many Futurists — along with Marinetti’s staunch hatred of pasta.

As Sam Lin-Sommer writes at Atlas Obscura, this effort dovetailed with Benito Mussolini’s desire to replace pasta as a staple dish with rice. This was the backdrop for a pasta sauce competition for which Marinetti was a judge — though he asked for his sauce to be served over something other than pasta, according to the article. The winning recipe came from acclaimed chef Amedeo Pettini, and sounds thoroughly delicious.

Lin-Sommer writes that Pettini created “a sauce of tomato, anchovies, sauteed artichokes, ham, and chopped pistachios.” (Yes, the article has a recipe.) This concoction’s name? Marinetti Sauce — though, as per Atlas Obscura’s article, this was not meant as a jab at the author who shared its name. Food and politics have converged since then, but this may be the most unique way in which they’ve done so.


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