We often like to think that we already know Italian culture well when we visit Italy, but as locals often remind us, we are not.
One of these points of contention is a popular "Italian" dish: spaghetti with Bolognese.
Order a plate of spaghetti bolognese in Italy and you will probably get a look from the server. And nowhere else in the historic city of Bologna, in the north of the country, where the mayor is engaged in a bitter crusade to prevent people from thinking that this is where the spaghetti comes from, because they have completely wrong.
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"Bolognese spaghetti does not exist, but is famous around the world," Virginio Merola, mayor of Bologna, told Italian radio RAI.
"What we would prefer the world to know is that Bologna invented tagliatelle, tortellini and lasagna."
Tagliatelle al ragù is an authentic Italian dish that most closely resembles spaghetti with Bolognese. Flat ribbons of handmade egg pasta are served in a very, very slow sauce of beef, vegetables, tomatoes and wine.
Tagliatelle al ragù comes from the region of Emilia-Romagna, of which Bologna is the capital. But spaghetti is not.
Merola is now trying to expose the "false news" of the abominable spaghetti bolognese through a campaign on social networks.
"Dear residents, I'm collecting photos of Bolognese spaghetti from around the world (talking about false information)," he tweeted last month. "This one is from London, send me please yours," added, with a picture of a restaurant table announcing the "house specialty".
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Since then, he has received dozens of responses from people tweeting strange versions of Bolognese spaghetti they've seen around the world, including what appeared to be squeezable sachets of instant sauce in Denmark.
"I do not know what kind of shit is in," they said, according to the Italian newspaper The Local.
The mayor said he would use the images presented to create an exhibition for Bologna's new theme park, FICO Eataly World, which will be the largest gourmet theme park in the world.
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He told the Telegraph that while tourists flocked to Bologna to taste world-class food, they would have no luck trying to order spaghetti bolognese.
"It's strange to be famous around the world for a dish that's not ours," Merola said.
"Of course, we are happy that this attracts attention to our city, but we would rather be recognized for the quality of the food that is part of our culinary tradition."
This article was originally published on News.com.au.