Sunday, February 01, 2009

Crusade against kebabs in Italy

Italy's anti-immigrant movement gets even loonier. (I've highlighted some of the most pithy and outrageous aspects of this campaign.)

Can we expect Italian crusades against the kufiya soon? Make no mistake, this is for the most part anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism and xenophobia. As the article notes, what are they gonna do about Sicilian cuisine, which is rooted in Arab cuisine?

From The Times of London
January 31, 2009
Italy bans kebabs and foreign food from cities
Richard Owen in Rome

The tomato comes from Peru and spaghetti was probably a gift from China.

It is, though, the “foreign” kebab that is being kicked out of Italian cities as it becomes the target of a campaign against ethnic food, backed by the centre-right Government of Silvio Berlusconi.

The drive to make Italians eat Italian, which was described by the Left and leading chefs as gastronomic racism, began in the town of Lucca this week, where the council banned any new ethnic food outlets from opening within the ancient city walls.

Yesterday it spread to Lombardy and its regional capital, Milan, which is also run by the centre Right. 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.

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.

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.

“This is a new Lombard Crusade against the Saracens,” La Stampa, the daily newspaper, said. The centre-left opposition in Lucca said that the campaign was discrimination and amounted to “culinary ethnic cleansing”.

Vittorio Castellani, a celebrity chef, said: “There is no dish on Earth that does not come from mixing techniques, products and tastes from cultures that have met and mingled over time.”

He said that many dishes thought of as Italian were, in fact, imported. 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. Even spaghetti, it is thought, was brought back from China by Marco Polo, and oranges and lemons came from the Arab world.

Mr Castellani said that the ban reflected growing intolerance and xenophobia in Italy. It was also a blow to immigrants who make a living by selling ethnic food, which is popular because of its low cost. There are 668 ethnic restaurants in Milan, a rise of nearly 30 per cent in one year.

The centre Right won national elections in April last year partly because of alarm about crime and immigration. This week there was a series of attacks on immigrants in bars and shops after the arrest of six Romanians accused of gang-raping an Italian girl in the Rome suburb of Guidonia.

Filippo Candelise, a Lucca councillor, said: “To accuse us of racism is outrageous. All we are doing is protecting the culinary patrimony of the town.”

Massimo Di Grazia, the city spokesman, said that the ban was intended to improve the image of the city and to protect Tuscan products. “It targets McDonald’s as much as kebab restaurants,” he added.

There is confusion, however, over what is meant by ethnic. Mr Di Grazia said that French restaurants would be allowed. He was unsure, though, about Sicilian cuisine. It is influenced by Arab cooking.


Anonymous said...

this is such a total bullshit! you should stop reading the uk times which is a renowned lying wastepeaper, yes wastepaper because a piece of paper that always attacks italy with its squalor it's not worth the name of newspaper. kebabs and ethnic food can be eaten in italy, it was only the tuscan town of lucca who banned ethnic restaurants with ethnic decoration from its renaissance-style town centre to preserve the renaissance look. and some looney dimwit english journalist dares to write such a lie!!!!!!!!!!!!! italian food it's indeed made up of food originally coming from american and some other countries but thanks to our organic cultivations we eat better than everybody else ine europe and the world. maybe the abuse of toxic waste in english crops drove this crappy writer crazy. they are degrading us to cover the turdy filthy poorer and poorer miserable crappy mess the uk has become!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Therese said...

This is right up my alley, Ted, and if you want to know more, ask me.

I find it a bit amusing that the comment before mine doesn't dispute this point as much as prove it, since, and I quote, Italians "eat better than everybody else in Europe and the world . . ."(many exclamation points). Presumably, Italy just is better than everybody else in Europe and the world; certainly it's not just one "looney dimwit" English journalist who has noted this xenophobic turn of collective mind (ummm, and need I mention chauvinist?).

I know I couldn't fail to notice, living in one of those "renaissance style" Northern towns ("style" being more the operative word than "renaissance") for 4 years, and being witness to, and the brunt of, Italian xenophobia. It's not just those nasty African immigrants and corrupt Sicilians, who probably have African roots and all, evil Sardinians, Arabs, strange Poles, etc., but good ol' Americans too, who get the shit from these folks.

I was accused of everything from being "too American" to "too cosmopolitan" and a host of other things I couldn't fathom--mostly because they are unfathomable except according to notorious Italian xenophobia, which is worse than the German variety. At least in Berlin it isn't officially tolerated.

Anonymous said...

if you feel uncomfortable being in italy take your sorry ass outta here! we have to adapt when we go abroad and you must do the same. plus mocking a non-english speaker for the way of writing is really patetic, just like you. anyway usa have a shameful story of racial discriminations, segregations, trials... and sacco and vanzetti were killed there only because they were italians... so you are not in the position to tell us what to do.

Anonymous said...

Actually Sacco and Vanzetti were 100% guilty of murder and robbery. Inconvenient truth.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you choke on your vomit the next time you dare to spit such lies you turd? Slut amanda knox is guilty and stupid instead.

Anonymous said...

Sacco and Vanzetti were killed because of anti-Italian prejudice. Puertorican Celestino Madeiros provided a proof that they were innocent but the American homicide fury didn't stop. In 1977 governor of Massachussets Dukakis admitted the trial was rigged and rehabilitated their memory as innocents. Why don't you study before opening that sewer that is your mouth you scumbag? So what about American soldiers like Lozano who killed Calipari in Iraq? Or the Cermis and Ustica massacres that killed innocent Italians. Our governs were too grateful to USA to admit they were killing Italians, sounds like the story of the man saved from drowning by another man who started asking him favors after favors, certainly USA haven't saved us for the sake of freedom but only to subdue and exploit, thank god you are sinking fast and your deeply racist, down-upon- looking, materialistic, superficial, know-it-all, murders-liking, bossy and bombing culture and attitude will die.