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Italy Bans Foreign Food: Italians Must Eat Italian Food ...

It started in Lucca this week, when the town council banned any new ethnic food outlets from opening within the walls of the medieval city. And it quickly spread to Milan: a ban on ethnic foods, meaning foods that are not Italian.  The Northern League party wants to protect regional specialties from the encroaching popularity of ethnic cuisines, like egg rolls and kebabs.

The Italian Minister of Agriculture, Luca Zaia, applauded the restrictions, saying ethnic restaurants should "stop importing container loads of meat and fish from who knows where" and use only Italian ingredients. Asked if he had ever tried a kebab, Mr. Zaia said no: "I prefer the dishes of my native Veneto.  I even refuse to eat pineapple."

Is it gastronomic racism, or a legitimate attempt to preserve authentic Italian cuisine?

Link - via coldmud

From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Marilyn Terrell.

Neither. It's xenophobia. "Ethnic" food usually means immigrants. Fresh immigrants without citizenship or education have few options, and this dissuades them. Particularly the inability to find ingredients essential to cuisine which makes them feel at home in their own homes.

I mean, I can understand if they want to preserve the "Italian" identity of these cities for purposes of tourism, but it's absolutely ridiculous, and no intelligent person should believe, that the only options are kebabs or linguine.

Anyway, I find it ironic, since all mediterranean cuisine comes from an ancient history of cultural exchange.
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having lived there and back from a recent trip, i TRULY don't think there are any reasons to believe that Italian cuisine would be in ANY danger in the country. this just seems dumb... I'm a little embarrassed for my country...
@Gary: I thought that pasta was originally from the China, or is that one of those things they taught us in elementary school that isn't true?
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Er... as a matter of fact this news piece is very imprecise, as anyone reading Italian newspapers can attest.

The Lucca story is that they banned ethnical foodstalls from the inner city, which is a medieval architecture beauty and thrives on its historical identity. Kebab, Chow Mein and Sushi can be found just outside of the small area of the ancient citadel.

Milano has no ban at all.

The minister is a member of a political party founded on xenophobia and which is widely criticized by most Italians. Said party comes up every single day with absurd proposals ("let's change the constitution!", "let's put local armies in the streets!", "stop paying taxes to the Evil Capital City"...) and it is obvious they went along for the ride and for a little publicity.
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Did you understand the article? They are asking the restaurants that make non-Italian cuisine to BUY their ingredients in Italy rather than bring them from foreign countries.

This is a good thing to do because the quality of what many of these restuarants bring in is BAD and even dangerous.

When I was living in France, it was on the news many times that asian resturants were using meat and fish that they bought cheap. Why was it cheap? Because it was unsafe! Thawed products that were re-frozen; meat that had been expired for months, even years was being cooked and sold.

The Italians are right to worry.
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They had better ban tomatoes since those are from the Americas. No more gnocchi - Potatoes also from the Americas.
I bet in 200 years they will be fighting to protect the national Italian dish of kebab. . . .
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Wow. I am disappointed that everyone too the "Italy is Evil" perspective on this one. I have a different theory in which Italy is being logical.

Italy largely survives on tourism. Tourist come to italy to see the sites and the EAT Italian food. Italians protecting their local cuisine is not racist or xenophobia. They are protecting their livelihood. If people come to Italy looking for Italian Food/Culture and see more & more non-Italian eateries, the country will lose it's luster/character and inevitably fewer people will come to visit. This happens and the local economy gets hammered , people lose jobs, and there is a strain on the already strained social state. This is a scenario that is repeated in many locations around the world as we speak and it just sounds like these folks are trying to keep it from happening in their city.

Like I said this is just another theory but I think it makes sense based on the state of the world's economies today.
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Its neither. Its a veiled economic stimulus for the food industry. They don't have to stop preparing or selling non-Italian food, they must simply purchase from Italian sources. A bit too protectionist but it definitely gets the votes of the local ingredients vendors.
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These jerks in Italy should think more about the reasons of the success of kebabis and chinese restaurants instead banning them.
These shops costs less, the're clean, the quality is often high and they are open until late night. So many young people prefer these way of eating instead the good old lasagnas and pasta.
A good kebab with a coke costs 4,50 euros. A dish of (frozen) pasta in the lowest restaurant is 6 euros!!

BTW Northern league is a party of dumbass and racist.
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Dave R.... have you ever been to Italy? Having foreign cuisane is not hurting them at all.
You know what we saw when we went to Italy? Almost empty Italian restraunts w/ a few Italians in them (usually not even eating but just hanging out) and McDonalds so crowded the lines were to the street. This wasn't just in 1 place we went to, but several. We went to 1 Italian place our 2 weeks there and we were looked at as if we were insane for even walking in to the place... and fyi.. an ASIAN guy cooked our food.

Anyway, it makes more sense that they'd be trying to get foreign restraunts to buy their products within Italy as other commentors mentioned as what was really happening. THAT I could understand. It'd help them regulate what was being used so nothing ify found its way on to someones plate.
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Gary said: If they want to ban foreign cuisine, they should ban pasta, which was originally Arab cuisine.

Actually Marco Polo brought back pasta from China didn't he?
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@ ragazzambulante
@ D Bozko

The oldest pasta in the world is over 4,000 years old and was found in China. So it's definitely looking like they were the first to have pasta.
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Are they xenophobic? Do they want to encourage more tourism by maintaining a distinct cultural identity? Are they worried about food safety?

We may never know the answer, especially since each person who supported the bans may have his/her own reasons. However, unless the bans are restricted to specific historical sites, they're just plain authoritarian.
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The Italian government has no right to tell people what they can, it can't, eat; not does it have the right to tell restaurateurs what they can sell. It must be left to each person to decide for himself.
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DOJ: there could be a number of reasons why they do so well... Fast foods like McDonald's are probably come out faster. Foods may be cheaper. The main reason I'm guessing is that despite the purpose of vacationing/tourist lifestyle is to explore new places, a vast majority of tourist are neophobic. They'd rather go eat something familiar rather than experiment.

From what I gleaned on the excerpt above, they aren't banning ethnic foods but rather importing foods. This isn't new - many places have strict regulations on import and export. As far as Lucca goes, the section's a historic district. Many such places have strict regulations not only on food. Williamsburg, VA will not allow buildings to be higher than three? four? stories tall. That one guy mentioned may be a food racist but other aspects of this article aren't all that shocking.
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Don't worry everybody, as stated before this is only an internal political issue raised by a xenophobic party. You will still find Italian AND foreign food in Italy :D
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Every time you see a news on papers about "padania"'s politic comment, please don't take it seriously...
i'm italian and not proud of Padania politic
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I live in Italy and i would advise these silly people to first up the knowledge of the cooks somewhat. Good restaurants (and simple, plain food is fine withe me) are hard to find. Ever been to BOlogna, it's a disaster culinary wise. You have to travel outside to get decent food. You might be better of with a Kebab. Same goes for FLorence, Sienna etc.
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READ THE ACTUAL ARTICLE YOU NIMRODS!!!! As "Bubi" stated they are referring to the foodstalls on the inner city, you can still go to parts of Italy and have a kebob or McDonalds and look like an ignoranus. "Gary" needs to stick to stay outta this conversation, ARABS and PASTA, are you kidding me!?!?!Hey "binc", did you know the tomatoes Italians use ARE FROM Itlay, the San Marzano region (probably teh best in the entire world), they don't need Jersey tomatoes. Obviously you don't eat good/authentic Italian food often, so I understand. "LisaL" perhaps you went to visit Italy in the off-season when basically THE ENTIRE COUNTRY takes vacation, and nobody was there to cook except an Asian, just a thought.
I believe what the government is trying to do is preserve the lifestyle and authenticity of the land, and what better way then to start form the GROUND up , literally. Italian food is probably THEE most popular in the world, and even if you don't know much about history of Rome you certainly know what Lasagna is. How could the country continue to thrive when they cannot support their own citizens and local farmers and fishermen? I love sushi but I wouldn't go to Ireland to order it. All I'm saying is, be more conscious and support the HOMELAND you visit, just as we should support our own American products.
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Sorry I am late....It's the fear of losing Italy to immigrants. Just like America, they love to have immigrants come in and work low wages, (doing the work, Italians won't do) However, they want to maintain a sense of superiority over the immigrants by placing a commercial glass ceiling. They hate to see immigrants with more money than they have, especially the dreaded ones with slanted eyes or brown skin.....That is why, America should shut the door in their faces, when they come to our shores.
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People, some of you really need to read the article much more closely. This is only partly about using Italian products, the rest is outright xenophobia.

'the council banned any new ethnic food outlets from opening within the ancient city walls'

'The antiimmigrant Northern League party brought in the restrictions “to protect local specialities from the growing popularity of ethnic cuisines”.'

'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 nonItalian food. “We stand for tradition and the safeguarding of our culture,” he said.'

'Davide Boni, a councillor in Milan for the Northern League, which also opposes the building of mosques in Italian cities, said that kebab shop owners were prepared to work long hours, which was unfair competition.'

Those are all discriminatory, racist remarks.

And btw, eatNrun, you nimrod: "The San Marzano tomato, a staple ingredient of Italian pasta sauces, was a gift from Peru to the Kingdom of Naples in the 18th century." Your precious tomato is from South America. *rolls eyes*
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