Ciao Jonathan e Alice
I recall before you exited stage right to Manhattan a couple of months ago that Jonathan, Lynne and I had dinner together in a top Manchester Italian restaurant. I accepted the waiter’s offer of grated parmigiano reggiano on top of my fish dish, to be be told that “Mummy would never have done that!”
As a child of landlocked Emilia Romagna, Mummy would never have mixed the finest cheese in the world with fish. The rich, salty flavours of parmigiano reggiano would overwhelm the flavours of fish, forcing a contrast not only in intensity of flavor, but also a sacrifice of the integrity of both ingredients.
Thus Grated cheese over a fish pasta is considered either extraneous, excessive, even demeaning.
But there may actually be historical reasoning behind this largely-accepted rule. For many centuries, meat and dairy consumption were forbidden for religious reasons every Friday. On that day, fish became the logical replacement for meat, and since cheese was also restricted, the two foods evolved distinctly from one another.
In any case there are many exceptions to the “rule,” and I’m sure many of us are “offenders.” Anchovies on pizza is something that comes immediately to mind.