“16 Times Italians Cried in the Comments Because We Put Chicken in Pasta.”
Revolution. Immersion. An unnamed dictator. Patricia Lockwood’s newest work No One is Talking About This capitalizes on all these themes, immersing its readers in a fictional world with parallels so similar to our own, reading it at times may feel like a vivid fever dream. From colorful nonvisual imagery to familiar unheard-of sounds, Lockwood paints a picture of an experience that feels so close, yet so far away. However, a few easter eggs can be found sprinkled throughout the book. Like the fondness of childhood memories surrounding a game of hide-and-seek, these hidden gems tether the reader’s mind to the important observations Lockwood finds about our society relating to social media today. Some are vaguer, while others, such as “16 Times Italians Cried in the Comments Because We Put Chicken in Pasta,” hint towards more specific internet occurrences (Lockwood 2021).
The journey to find the origin of this oddly specific comment leads to a page on every millennial’s second favorite ranting website: Buzzfeed. “23 Italians Who Have Absolutely HAD IT With American Versions Of Their Food” (Emmanuel 2019). Upon scrolling through this article, one can find that it is a compilation of multiple screenshots from every millennial’s first favorite ranting website: Twitter. More specifically, all the tweets featured are from the self-dubbed favorite food snob account @italiancomments. Since May 2015, this account also known as italians mad at food is filled with all sorts of complaints from Italians concerned about the various ways their foods have tried to be prepared. One tweet from May 8, 2019, highlights a time where an Italian was upset because of people’s misuse of pasta. She cites overcooking it, breaking it, and most importantly, the abomination of putting chicken in it (italians mad at food 2019).
One might wonder what the point of this quote is in No One is Talking About This. It is such an oddly specific occurrence that it would be weird to assume that it is just a fun easter egg for avid internet-crazed fans to dwell upon. This assumption would be correct; Lockwood’s easter eggs not only serve the purpose of tethering the reader to the real world as alluded to previously. These little cybernuggets are vehicles to move the story along. In the paragraph right before the Italian’s outcry, the unnamed character through which the book is framed talks about how her online presence consumes her to the point at which her husband would become concerned. “[He] might burst through that wall of swimming red to rescue her, but she would twist away and kick him in the nuts, screaming, ‘My whole life is in there!’” At the end of the paragraph detailing the supposed chicken in pasta epidemic, the narrator notes that “Everyone agreed that it was fine to make fun of Italians. Was Christopher Columbus the reason?” In the paragraphs afterward, the narrator questions other occurrences that brought people together on the internet for what might seem to be the dumbest or most concerning things (Lockwood 2021).
There could be many explanations drawn as to why this section of the book exists with its weird references and allegories, but upon closer inspection, it can be plain to see that the oddly nameless narrator and Patricia Lockwood herself are hinting towards the common theme of how absorbed society has become in its digital life. The things that can be experienced in what Lockwood calls the portal (more commonly known to the general public as social media or the internet) have collectively consumed the minds of those who choose to engage in its tantalizing offers, uniting people around anything and everything with a passion so fervent that no one questions how or why it is happening.
Perhaps Lockwood has tried to create a key to set free those who read her words and have been trapped in this cage without remorse. Or maybe the reference to the Italian complaint craze is a small bout of humor embedded for pure enjoyment. Perhaps we will never know.
- Emmanuel, Daniella. 2019. “23 Italians Who Have Absolutely HAD IT With American Versions Of Their Food.” BuzzFeed, July 16, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/02/business/online-cohabitation-internet-minitel-videotex-system-france-proves-unusually.html
- italians mad at food (@ItalianComments), “‘she suffers’ is also the name of my new goth metal track,” Twitter, May 8, 2019, https://twitter.com/ItalianComments/status/1126154099752353800?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1126154099752353800%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.buzzfeed.com%2Fdaniellaemanuel%2Ftwitter-account-italians-mad-american-food
- Lockwood, Patricia. No One is Talking About This. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021.