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Nigella Lawson and our love affair with Italian food – but it wasn’t always that way.

Extravagant pictures of British cook and New York Times contributor Nigella Lawson cavorting in Rome’s Trevi Fountain were released at the weekend to publicise her new Italian cookbook Nigellissima!

Filled with recipes that Nigella says she has collected over the span of her forty year love affair with la dolce vita and adapted to modern tastes, the book is expected to be another best seller. Proof, one could say, of everyone’s enduring delight in Italian cuisine.

So its amusing to the Cool Culinaria team to point out that not so long ago, Italian food was considered a bit too exotic for American tastes.

This diner sign advertising “American-style spaghetti” was put on display in many roadside diners in the 1950s. What did it mean? In those days, many Americans didn’t like garlic and wouldn’t have dreamed of using olive oil in their cooking. They probably couldn’t have afforded it either or found it easy to buy.

The sign was to let customers know that the spaghetti and red sauce simmering away on the stove behind the diner counter had been adapted for American palates. The spaghetti certainly wouldn’t have been al dente and the sauce was probably nice but bland.

We love this diner sign but nowadays we all like a good pungent and authentic sugo that tastes like it could have been made in Italy.

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