A recent letter to Marcella and her answer:
I thought of you watching Top Chef these last couple of weeks. One chef used cream in his risotto, to make it creamy, and clearly that would make any student of yours upset. Then Tom Colicchio said that if a risotto is not runny then it is not risotto. He went to write: “Risotto should be soupy. If you go to Italy, you’ll be served it that way; ditto, a good Italian restaurant here…The starch should go into the stock and the risotto should run on a flat plate and not hold its form at all.” My risotto, which I learnt from your writings, holds its form. I’m not sure if it should, according to others, but I like it.
American chefs who go to Italy suffer from a Moses complex, they are always coming down from the mount with a tablet of rules for the unlearned. What he should have said is, “If you go to Venice …”. Yes, our Venetian risotto, while not quite soupy unless it’s made with peas, is indeed runny, and of course we love it. But in Bologna and in Piedmont, risotto is firmly clingy and it is not less delicious. As for the chef who adds cream, well, follow my example, pay no attention to chefs.