Italy is home to a food tradition as rich as varied as the terrain itself; not one cuisine, but many. Yet, as John Last sets out in this Noema feature, it’s also home to a culinary purism that can verge on xenophobia — and considering the many-headed hydra of difficulties the nation is facing, it’s going to need to adapt or perish.

All across Italy, as Parasecoli tells me, food is used to identify who is Italian and who is not. But dig a little deeper into the history of Italian cuisine and you will discover that many of today’s iconic delicacies have their origins elsewhere. The corn used for polenta, unfortunately for Pezzutti, is not Italian. Neither is the jujube. In fact, none of the foods mentioned above are. All of them are immigrants, in their own way — lifted from distant shores and brought to this tiny peninsula to be transformed into a cornerstone of an ever-changing Italian cuisine.