Is the ‘Italian’ food real?

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development is looking to bring authentic Italian culture and food to Miami in the form of an Italian day in October, according to Nevio Boccanera, executive director of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, Southeast — meanwhile trying to bring the traditional Mediterranean diet back to families in the European country. 
The ministry is collaborating with the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce in Miami to promote not only the food but also the idea that people should eat well to feel well, said Valeria Bernardini, of the US office of the ministry. 
“This promotion is kind of a new concept to promote Italian food,” she said. The goal is to also give a social message to families and to young people who are careful about their health.
As part of its Authentically EATalian program, which is only on the menu for Miami and Los Angeles, the ministry is looking to collaborate with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools to introduce the food to the schools and teach young children how to make authentic Italian dishes and use food as a means for being together, playing together and growing healthy.
They are looking to have an Italian Day in order to find synergies to explore the opportunity to educate the children about Italian culture, how to eat well and healthfully and about how Italian gastronomic tradition can help with the education efforts, Mr. Boccanera said. 
The program would also help families to identify natural and healthful products, as well as differentiate between authentic Italian products and those that are made in the US. 
“There is a phenomenon about Italian products that aren’t really from Italy,” he said. 
And recently, a huge sensitivity has developed in Italy about issues like obesity and diabetes, he said, so this isn’t just a commercial project but a cultural one as well.
In Italy, said Francesca Lodi, trade officer for the chamber, “we got away from traditionally Mediterranean food. We want our children to get back to the Mediterranean diet — and stick to it — so we are campaigning in Italy too.”

“The moment is now to spread this in the US, because now there is a sensibility to food being part of our well-being,” Ms. Bernardini said.
The ministry, she said, is spreading the word in Italy about the projects being done in the US and hopes to bring healthy eating worldwide as a way of life.
“We are finding a lot of synergy [here],” Mr. Boccanera said, “This is something that can enrich Miami.”
“Things are changing in the US. People are eating better than four years ago,” he said. “But still, there are a lot of things that need to be done.”
“We support [that change], and we think that Italian food can find a niche in all of this.”
The aim of Authentically EATalian is to reinforce the idea that eating authentic Italian food contributes to a person’s wellbeing and good health, according to the website. The project’s goal is also to raise awareness of how to identify real Italian food and restaurants and avoid the fake Italian-sounding counterparts. 
The Mediterranean diet, the site says, is more effective if the products used are the original ones and not industrial surrogates.

By Meisha Perrin