Why don’t Italians put cheese on seafood pasta?
1. Italians are very conscious of topography when it comes to food. Cheese and seafood are traditionally not paired because pre-modernity, they weren’t even available in the same location! Cows are typically bred in grasslands in flatter regions of northern Italy, while the best seafood pasta comes from the rocky shores of southern Italy. Hence, Italians don’t put milk from a large land animal on top of the meat of a tiny sea creature.
2. Even more importantly, Italians see it as almost criminal to overpower or alter the delicate flavor of seafood. Italians revere the pure taste of the sea. Using cheese on top of seafood masks its subtle and sublime essence. Americans think cheese tastes good on seafood pasta because our palates aren’t trained to be patient with nuanced flavors. Let your tongue learn to love the power of “less is more,” like the Italians do. And please don’t shoot the messenger, but if you’re asking for cheese on top of your seafood pasta, I can promise you, your waiter is making fun of you. And in Italy, they will likely refuse your request.