In Italy, food means much more than nutrition, it is culture, heritage, tradition. Satisfying all senses at once in a voluptuous embrace, Italian food is impossible to resist. Its variety is legendary and its history rooted deep into that of the country: you eat and you learn, you learn and you eat.
That Italian cuisine is famous all over the globe is stating the obvious, but there is much to be done abroad to protect and support what is really Italian from counterfeiting and, more generally, to eradicate a distorted idea of what “made in Italy” really is.
To this aim, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, along with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education, signed the Protocollo d’Intesa Maaeci-Mipaf-Miur, an agreement created in collaboration with other national entities, including the Ministry for Economics Affairs and CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee. The overall goal of the protocol is the promotion and safeguard of Italian culinary tradition in six countries: Japan, China, Russia, Brazil, the UAE and, of course, the USA.
The program is part of a larger Italian plan to promote traditional national cuisine, the Food Act, launched last year during Expo Milan 2015. On the day of the plan’s presentation, the 15th of March, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, underlined how “Italian cuisine and Italian traditional, high quality food products are integrant part of our culture. They speak of Italy, of our taste for good food, to millions of people around the world.”
Important also the words of Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina, who made the Protocol’s aims and objectives clear: “promoting the real ‘made in Italy’, also through the help of world famous chefs, to strengthen our presence on foreign markets.”
Foreign markets which have been choosing the “made in Italy” for a while, already: last year, also thanks to the publicity provided by Expo Milan 2015, agricultural and food products exports earned the country almost 37 billion euro (around 41.5 billion USD).
What’s the plan?
Many initiatives have been created to support high quality Italian cuisine in the six countries participating to the Protocol.
Among the most important, there are certainly the Italian Food Week, organized by Italian Embassies, Consulates and cultural institutes during the last ten days of November, and the Italian Food Day, which will take place during relevant international sports events, such as the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.
To support the diffusion of high quality Italian cuisine abroad, the Protocol will also offer study grants to young Italian chefs under 30 years of age, and international Italian cooking master classes, where local chefs will propose examples of Italian cuisine to the public.
In the USA, the promotion of original “made in Italy” food and products already started last December with the presentation of a video realized by Silvio Muccino, shown for days at the very heart of New York, on Times Square.
“The extraordinary Italian taste”
This is the brand by which all initiatives will be identified and become recognizable internationally, a brand essential to make the original “made in Italy” stand out against the rest. The Protocol includes an outline for action to promote and support the “made in Italy” in the world.
Far from being simply and exclusively marketing oriented, the outline starts from underlining the cultural and historical value of food in the country and proposes several means to raise awareness and knowledge of it around the world.
Interesting is the idea of using famous Italian chefs as ambassadors of the original culinary “made in Italy,” just as it is the valorization of Italian food excellence and of the Mediterranean diet on the international market, with particular attention given to the promotion of Italy’s DOP, IGP and Biologico denominations.
Promotion starts at home
Strengthening the brand “Italy” outside the country’s borders means, however, making authentic “made in Italy” shine also at home. For this reason, the Protocol underlines the importance of supporting quality-certified wine-and-food itineraries, created to promote local products and recipes.
The Protocol will also support the recognition of an official Italian quality cuisine, apt to identify recipes and high quality products typical of Italian tradition.
To see the first events organized in accord with the Protocollo d’Intesa per la Valorizzazione all’Estero della Cucina Italiana di Alta Qualità we will have to wait the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which start on the 5th of August.