I’ve been on my soapbox for years about the fakery of too many products being passed off as Italian when, in fact, they are not. Wisconsin “Parmesan” isn’t parmigiano-reggiano, the true Parma cheese crafted with 800 years of knowhow and tradition behind it. Canned tomatoes are brazenly branded “San Marzano” when they have never been kissed by the Italian sun. It’s the age-old problem of profiteers making off with Italy’s good name — and benefiting from its cachet. No more. Italy has a plan. It’s called the “Made in Italy” campaign and it aims to educate, promote, and protect the genius and high quality of Italian artisanal products abroad. Carlo Calenda, Italy’s Vice Minister of Economic Development, was in New York City today with the new Director of the Italian Trade Commission, Maurizio Forte, and other top officials, announcing the launch of their “Special Fashion Plan for the U.S.A.” Excited as I was to hear this for the fashion industry, I asked the Minister how the strategy relates to the food sector. “We’ll be working with the F.D.A. to protect our trademarks and geographical indications through official channels,” he said. I’d say that’s very good news.
Photos by Nathan Hoyt.