Feb 272011

Acqua&Sapone magazine is not known in Italy for its highbrow content, but rather as the magazine that you’ll find on the rack as you wait for the hairdresser. In a recent article (11 Jan 2011, p.98-99), under the category of “Italian Food” (given in English, Italian), the author takes Italian food to task. Well, Italian-American food—but not in that sense. Italian food made in America…but passed off as Italian.

A simple mention of the title is probably enough to give the reader the main idea: “Made (not) in Italy.” The author, Stefano Cortelletti, laments the fact that many products are sold in other countries with the name “Italy” on the package but without being produced or even being thinkable on the peninsula. His examples are Wisconsin parmesan cheese, Pompeian olive oil made in Baltimore, and Classic Italian Quattro Formaggi pasta sauce (“Who’s ever seen this in an Italian supermarket?” asks Cortelletti rhetorically). Cortelletti is not above playing the snob card, insisting that some of these products “wouldn’t be used in Italy for killing mice,” and tracing the reason for the apparent popularity of these products to the fact that there is no “solid, widespread Italian taste in existence abroad.”

Citing the Italian manufacturers’ association, Cortelletti makes a good point about the price that Italians pay when foreigners prefer these “faked” products to the real “Made in Italy,” though he seems oblivious to the fact that there is often a process of acculturation of foreign foods.

Grazie a Elgin Eckert per la segnalazione.

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