There's Now Proof that Italians Are the Most Passionate Cooks in the World
In a massive poll of 27,000 people in 22 different countries, researchers found that Italy and India have cooking on lock. Belgium and Poland, not so much.
Anyone who has a nonna knows that in Italian culture, cooking is king. It's the glue of the family, the center of socializing, and the backbone of … well … being Italian. You could say that about almost any culture—food, after all, is something that plays a pivotal role in the lives of literally every person on Earth.
How do you quantify something like that? By asking questions, naturally.
In the poll, 43 percent of Italians expressed their personal passion for food, as opposed to just 26 percent of Brits and less than a quarter of French people (ironic, considering that Americans—37 percent of home fancy themselves foodies—often idolize the French as ambassadors of the gourmet). After Italy, South Africa, Indonesia, and Mexico were the next-most food-obsessed societies.
Belgium, Poland, Russia, South Korea, and Sweden—despite their distinct styles of native cuisine—came in last, with only 13 percent of respondents reporting that they prioritize food and consider it a personal interest. Guess there's less love cooked into that borscht or banchan than you might have thought.
India, on the other hand—in addition to sporting a style of food so delicious, it's scientifically proven—has the most love for the kitchen in terms of time spent. Indians spend an average of 13 hours preparing food per week, nearly two hours a day of ensuring that that tikka masala is juuuust right. Ditto Ukraine, where cooks spend an equal amount of time laboring over their varenyky and seem to have a leg up on their disinterested Eastern European neighbors of Poland and Russia. The French, too, cook just about 5.5 hours per week—but they're especially fond of eating out, or sitting back with a baguette and some stinky cheese.
South Korea just doesn't give a shit—respondents spent a weekly average of only 3.7 hours cooking for themselves, compared to a global average of 6.5 hours (but maybe they've just streamlined their recipe for bibimbap).
There are other possible explanations, too. Some regions are rife with delicious street food and easy-to-make meals that necessitate less time spent in the kitchen. After all, you're not going to find a late-night market filled with cheap, freshly cooked gnocchi with a seven-hour tomato sauce in Rome, but you could find a delicious piece of spicy meat on a skewer in Seoul.
As for the good ol' US of A—well, we did better than you'd expect for a nation unapologetically obsessed with things like waffle tacos and bacon-wrapped pizzas. Thirty-seven percent of Americans say that they are very passionate about food and cooking, including about half of all respondents in their 30s—one of the highest marks for any age group of any country in the world.
And unfortunately, the stereotype of women spending more time in the kitchen still exists for a reason: In the US, men spend an average of 5.2 hours cooking, while women clock in at 6.4 hours in the kitchen.
More American teenagers and young adults considered themselves "passionate" as opposite to "knowledgeable," while the inverse was true for seniors (those over the age of 60), about a third of whom considered themselves knowledgeable, while less than a quarter feel quote-unquote "passionate."
But maybe if you're an American with an Italian grandma, you get the best of both worlds.