Monday, February 2, 2009

Lucca and local food

According to a recent article in Rome's La Repubblica, the smallish, pretty town of Lucca In northern Tuscany (known for its well-preserved walls) has banned ethnic food. Non-Italian food (including Chinese restaurants and kebab shops) will not be allowed in the center of town or centro storico. Other parts of the same ordinance dictate standards of taste in restaurant decor and enjoin owners to forbid people from loitering in the vicinity with their food. They even require at least one Lucca specialty on the menu, and state that waiters should know English.

It's hard to believe that Italian food needs protectionism in Italy (or even elsewhere). It is also true that unbeknownst to patrons, the Italian dishes they eat in Italy are often prepared by foreigners toiling behind the scenes. I suspect that this is one more sign of the disarray Italy is facing with the unregulated flux of immigrants into the country. A complex, fraught subject- and not only for them. More on this later.