January 26, 2021
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The Telegraph

Italian pasta company apologises for ‘fascist’ rigatoni named after former colony Ethiopia

A leading Italian pasta maker has apologised for naming one of its products after Ethiopia, raking up memories of the country’s inglorious colonial past in the Horn of Africa country. The rigatoni pasta, named Abissine in Italian, appeared to be an ill-considered nod to a tradition from the 1920s and ’30s of naming pasta after Italy’s colonies, including Tripoline and Bengasine, after Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya, and Abissine after Abyssinia, Ethiopia’s former name. The firm, La Molisana, said it was sorry for having “recalled in an unacceptable way a dramatic page” in Italian history. Italy attempted to invade and occupy Ethiopia in 1896 but its forces were defeated at the Battle of Adowa. Under Mussolini, a second attempt was made, leading to a brutal conflict in the 1930s that saw the Italians kill thousands with mustard gas and aerial bombardments. Italy occupied the country from 1935-41, when it became part of the Italian East Africa colony. La Molisana, based in the Molise region of southern Italy, said that it would change the name of the pasta to “conchiglie” – Italian for shells, in reference to the shape of the product. The firm’s apology was welcomed by the National Association of Partisans, which represents the guerrilla fighters who battled Italian Fascist and German forces during the Second World War. Michele Petraroia, the head of the association in Molise, said the pasta company had a proud tradition of standing up to fascism, recalling that its factory had been destroyed by retreating Axis forces during the war. “Nevertheless, it was appropriate that La Molisana should clarify that it has nothing to do with fascism.” Italy underwent less of a reckoning with its dark past than Germany and there is still a vocal minority of Italians who openly praise the fascist era.