Marco Werman: A little wine, a little pasta. So, for a quick Geo Quiz today, where's the world's leading pasta maker based? It's in the Emilia Romagna section of Italy - world famous for its Prosciutto and its cheese. So, the answer to the Geo Quiz today is Parma, Italy. Parma, the home to fine-aged Parmigiano cheese, Parma ham. It's a foodie's paradise in many ways. It's also home to the fine factory-produced pasta, Barilla. But, in the last 24 hours, Barilla has become the whipping boy of the internet. That's because yesterday their CEO said on Italian radio that he'd never put a same-sex family in a Barilla commercial and "if gays didn't like that" said Guido Barilla, "they can buy another pasta." Well, gay and lesbian activists are outraged and calling for a boycott. Italian parliamentarians are also up in arms and everybody is posting this on the internet. But, here's the thing about Barilla - it's really good pasta. My Italian friend Bianca Baggio, and one of the best cooks I know, uses it when she doesn't make her own pasta. A lot of people do, but with all the calls for a boycott what's a sensitive foodie to do? Well, I've got Bianca on the line from her kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bianca, when was the last time you made pasta and what kind did you use?
Bianca Baggio: Yesterday and it was Barilla.
Werman: Oh, my gosh!
Baggio: You know, it's the everyday pasta. It's what you grow up with. It's what you see on the table, like, in the kitchen every day. I was so upset when I heard this today and I think I would be ready to change from Barilla to De Cecco. There are a lot of great pastas out there but I will not support someone that discriminates against gay couples. I think it's crazy; it's a business issue for someone to do something like that. I will be ready to get rid of Barilla anytime, today.
Werman: Can you imagine what the debate is like in Italy right now?
Baggio: I think people must be going crazy. There are two types of people. If I speak with my parents, they most likely will say someone is free to do whatever they want to do. Other people that are really close to this issue will feel it's immoral in this day and age to do something like that. I mean, there are people here, they love one another and they should be free to do that. Barilla should not come out and say something like that in this day and age and I think people should respond. I will definitely respond. I will be ready to get rid of Barilla. I'll take all my boxes and put them out on the street, people can get it.
Werman: For you it's "basta cosi."
Baggio: Basta cosi, finito, ciao.
Werman: That's my good friend Bianca Baggio. And even if she's adrift for a while on what brand pasta to cook, she also makes a killer polenta with porcini mushrooms. So, who cares about pasta anyway? Check out more of my thoughts on Barilla including a 'sorta creepy' video that the company uses to promote its values. I have a blog up at our new online home; it's easy to remember - pri.org.
Do you enjoy our audio? Please help support it with a donation.