I was sitting at my desk just doing mindless internet surfing when I came across an news article about Italy’s new effort to ban any new foreign food restaurants into cities. Starting in Lucca and spreading to other cities in the Lombardy region, Italian president Silvio Berlusconi really feels strongly about Italians only eating italian food…. as a means of cultural preservation of course.
Alright so, a little background. I lived abroad for about 6 months in Parma, Italy… home to Italy’s booming food industry, and when it comes to food, Italians are not kidding. There is so much diversity across the different regions in Italy that apparently there is absolutely no room for the cuisines of immigrant cultures from Africa and the Middle East….at least not anymore.
Luca Zaia, the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the Northern League from the Veneto region, applauded the authorities in Lucca and Milan for cracking down on non-Italian food. “We stand for tradition and the safeguarding of our culture,” he said.
Mr Zaia said that those ethnic restaurants allowed to operate “whether they serve kebabs, sushi or Chinese food” should “stop importing container loads of meat and fish from who knows where” and use only Italian ingredients.
Asked if he had ever eaten a kebab, Mr Zaia said: “No – and I defy anyone to prove the contrary. I prefer the dishes of my native Veneto. I even refuse to eat pineapple.”
Mehmet Karatut, who owns one of four kebab shops in Lucca, said that he used Italian meat only.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge supporter of eating local and maintaining national food traditions, but is this taking the “eating local” thing too far, and turning into a gastronomical form of racism? In Italy the culinary culture is synonymous with nationalism, but is this enough justification to completely ban other forms of cuisine?
What if someone is craving a burger, or a kebab? NO! *slaps hand* PASTA FOR YOU!
Anyway, go read the article. It’s a real trip.
And yes, Italians really are this crazy. (If you are Italian and reading this, I hope you are not offended, pero e’ davvero cosi in Italia, tutti politici pazzi.)