On Saturday night in any major city the world over, it’s not uncommon to see long line ups outside local kebab restaurants. With a belly full of beer, urbanites head bleary eyed to the nearest falafel shop in search of delicious ethnic cuisine. This practice is more than a tradition – it’s an institution, with kebab houses the world over staying open into the wee-morning hours.
But now the citizens of Italy can kiss their late night shwarma goodbye. In a move many are calling “gastronomic racism,” the right wing Italian government has moved to ban all ethnic foods in urban centers. Proponent of the campaign claim they brought forth the restrictions “to protect local specialties from the growing popularity of ethnic cuisines”.
Critics are citing the recent move as an alarming attempt at “culinary ethnic cleansing”. Top Italian chef Vittorio Castellani is concerned that the ban on ethnic food could harm Italian cuisine, instead of help it. “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.”
It is well documented that many of the foods Italians enjoy today were first imported from foreign lands. It is believed that tomatoes were originally a gift from Peru in the 18th century, whereas Spaghetti was probably brought back from China by Marco Polo.
Still, the government maintains that cracking down on foreign food is the only way to preserve Italian culture and cuisine. Luca Zaia, the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the ruling right-wing Northern League believes that the new measures will safe guard tradition. 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.”
Refuse to eat pineapple? Now THAT’S culinary dedication….