Two Greedy Italians Review

TWO GREEDY ITALIANS: Wednesday 4th May, BBC2, 8pm

Italy doesn’t just produce the mafia, randy Prime Ministers and mushroom-eating plumbers: Italian food is loved the world over, and the Mediterranean lifestyle lauded as one of the healthiest on the planet. As such, Two Greedy Italians sees Antonio Carluccio OBE and Gennaro Contaldo go back to their homeland to reconnect with their culinary heritage, in the well-hashed format of sending two older ‘foodies’ out on the road to discover how people from different areas cook and enjoy their grub (ala Hairy Bikers, Two Fat Ladies and god knows how many others..)

The Italian TV chefs and restaurateurs, who have made their name in Britain, are keen to see how the country has changed in the twenty years or more that they’ve been away. Italian mealtimes, renowned for their large boisterous conversations, many courses and lots of alcohol, are a traditional favourite in Italy. But to the dismay of Antonio and Gennaro, due to the rise of packaged food, fast-food restaurants and womens independence, traditional family meals seem to be dying out.

The two visit many places that have shaped Italians food habits in recent years with Antonio and Gennaro asking those involved about their eating habits and, like bad private investigators, repeatedly quzzing different women on why they don’t cook any more. Their rotund frames challenge some of the ‘healthiest lifestyle’ claims, as both are self-confessed food addicts. Their love of food almost extends to hedonism, as when either takes a bite of something especially satisfying, their eyes roll back into their heads and there is a constant worry that one of them is going to pass out from gratification. Disappointingly, neither exclaims: “thatsa spicy meatball!â€?

From the offset, Antonio (the one who doesn’t look like Silvio Berlusconi) lets everyone know that never having children has made him feel that he missed out on a large Italian family, and then spends most of the show pitying himself to camera like he’s going through some sort of diary room therapy.

Interspersed with the duo’s adventures, they take turns to cook for each other, which falls in line with the more traditional cookery shows. During the preparation, they have a lot of friendly squabbling and banter that makes it obvious that they’ve been friends for a very long time. The duo’s chuminess and curiosity about the food, that they have an obvious passion for, makes this show very watchable and it’s their enthusiasm inspires you into rustling up some extravagant pasta dish and grabbing your extended family for a meal that will last for a good couple of hours.