Archive for the ‘News’ Tag

News: best place to eat in Perugia, fall 2010   Leave a comment

Several students from the Umbra Institute food programme voted this Christmas on Perugia’s best eating spot, after a semester of delectation and growing expertise in food matters. Here are the results. Congratulations to the Osteria del Tempo Perso and Al Mangiar Bene. SY

Osteria del Tempo Perso: 12
Al Mangiar Bene: 10
Mediterranea: 6
Dal mi cocco: 5
Pizza e Musica: 4
La Taverna: 2
Pizzeria Etrusca: 2
Trattoria del Borgo: 2
Il Baldo: 1
La Cambusa: 1
Il Tempio: 1
La Victoria: 1
Luna Bar: 1

Posted December 31, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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News: US passes new olive oil regulations   Leave a comment

What does “extra-virgin” mean on a bottle of olive oil in Kentucky? Starting in October 2010, it’ll mean a lot more. For years the Italian government has complained to the USDA about mislabeling of olive oil sold in the US market, mislabeling that relates to both provenance (Morroccan oil sold as Tuscan), content (mixed oils sold as “100% pure olive oil”), and quality (“extra-virgin”). This last term until now did not have any official, legally binding meaning in the United States.

The USDA has, however, announced new regulations that will take effect in October, standardizing nomenclature and mandating certain purity levels for different grades of oil. The decision was hailed by the California Olive Oil Council, whose members have been voluntarily following similar guidlines for years. The new regulations will make competition more fair for quality producers (who in the past have been forced to compete with cheap products) and will certainly reinforce the value of the “Made in Italy” brand in the United States.  ZN

[Read the new regulations here.]

Posted November 16, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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News: the real bolognese sauce   Leave a comment

An article today from the Times of London (Jan 18, 2010) by Richard Owen. Italy began a campaign yesterday to defend the reputation of one of its most famous but most widely abused exports: pasta with bolognese sauce — otherwise known as spag bol. Coldiretti, the country’s farmers’ union, said that although people around the world believed they were eating spaghetti bolognese, what they were actually forking into their mouths were ‘improbable concoctions’ of tomato paste from a jar with a ‘remarkable variety’ of ingredients, ranging from meatballs or turkey to mortadella. Yesterday, however, 440 chefs in Italian restaurants in 50 countries, from Malaysia to Turkey and Saudi Arabia to China, made the authentic dish with the precise ingredients and cooking methods laid down in a recipe patented by the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982. Food experts say that to be authentic, bolognese sauce should be served with the egg noodle pasta tagliatelle, rather than spaghetti, with the tagliatelle conforming to a 1972 recipe laying down that it must be precisely 8mm wide. Mario Caramella, the head chef at the Bali Hyatt Hotel in Indonesia and head of the Virtual Association of Italian Chefs (GVCI), which organised the event, said: ‘If there is one dish in the Italian repertoire which is cooked worst than most, it is traditional bolognese sauce.’  Alfredo Tomaselli, the owner of Dal Bolognese, in the Piazza del Popolo, Rome, said: ‘It is true that when they offer ragu alla bolognese on menus abroad the dish in question often has absolutely nothing to do with the original.’  Alessandro Circiello, of the Italian Federation of Chefs, told Corriere della Sera newspaper: ‘It is always the great classic recipes that are most mangled.’ Too many cooks outside Italy tended to ‘throw a lot of cream and butter into dishes because they cover up hidden blemishes’. Coldiretti has sought in the past to defend other ‘adulterated’ Italian recipes, including Neapolitan pizza, pasta al pesto — a Genoese speciality, cotoletta alla Milanese and the ubiquitous Italian dessert tiramisu. However, Gianluigi Veronesi, a food writer, said that the world festival of bolognese sauce was too late ‘because frankly, they don’t even make it properly in Bologna any more’. Rosario Scarpato, the honorary president of the GVCI, said: ‘The sauce must be made with great care and simmered extremely slowly to bring out all the flavours. The tagliatelle must never, ever, be overcooked and at the very last moment, the dish should be served with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.’ The article then offers a recipe. For the BBC’s take on this follow the video link. SY

Posted November 7, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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News: Mom and Pop Shops Close   Leave a comment

Italians bid arrivederci to Mom-and-Pop grocers: The number of supermarkets surges after the law allowed the mixing of products, fostering one-stop shopping.

Los Angeles Times by Frances D’emilio February 16, 2003

Rome – Mom and pop are closing up shop, hanging up their prosciutto knives, bagging the last plump tomatoes and calling it a day. Or, rather, a lifetime, as they take off their white grocers’ aprons for good.

In ancient city alleys as well as suburban malls across Italy, supermarkets are luring customers away from family-run neighborhood shops with lower prices and more convenient hours, defying skeptics who thought that Italians would never abandon generations-old shopping habits.

Decades after French, German, British and other Europeans became supermarket regulars, Italians from police officers on lunch breaks to grandmothers cooking for two generations are increasingly walking right past the mom-and-pops and through the automatic doors of the chain stores.

Supermarkets “wiped us out,” said Silvana Moscatelli, who, after 44 years of grating Parmesan and cutting crusty bread in her store in Rome, rolled down the shutters for vacation last summer and never rolled them back up.

“We were putting in 14 hours a day for a fistful of flies,” Moscatelli said bitterly. “We’d see our old customers walk by with supermarket shopping bags.”

The number of supermarkets has surged 74%, from 3,696 in 1996 to 6,413 in 2000, says Confcommercio, an Italian business lobby. In the decade through 2001, the number of small food shops slumped 24%, from roughly 254,000 to 193,000, said Confesercenti, a small businesses lobby.

Confesercenti estimates that 50% of Italian purchases of food and other household goods are now made in supermarkets or superstores.

In great measure, the supermarket success story reflects Italy’s changing demographics and economics.

Generations of homemakers bought bread, cheese, produce and meat in a daily ritual, a chatty, time-consuming procession from one neighborhood store to the next.

Until a few years ago, Italian laws forbade food shops from mixing their products. Bakeries, for example, couldn’t sell fruit, and vegetable stands couldn’t carry eggs.

But with both spouses often working these days, there’s less time for all those stops to buy bread, let alone fettuccine, fish, fruit, and the detergent to wash the dishes from three-course dinners.

And in the last decade or so, supper has increasingly supplanted lunch as the main meal of the day.

That means that more workers are eating near their workplaces, often picking up ready-to-eat salads or sandwich fixings at supermarkets, which, unlike the mom-and-pops, don’t close for lunch.

Many supermarkets are open on Sunday too. Family-run stores rarely are.

Consumers say the bottom line is price.

Vincenzo De Fiore, a doorman for 34 years at a palazzo in an upscale neighborhood near the Pantheon in Rome, said his wife used to shop every day in the nearest outdoor market, at Campo Dei Fiori, as pricey as it is picturesque.

“We have blue-collar pay but we were shopping in a place for signori, ” said De Fiore, who has an apartment in the palazzo.

No more. His wife goes to a supermarket that opened a block away, and offers fresh fish and produce.

Antonio Tiberi, who runs a tiny grocery with his brother just down the block from that supermarket, said that had he known the store was going to open, he would have never set up shop in the neighborhood seven years ago.

With half a dozen supermarkets now within strolling distance of his shop, he worries about his business as well as the character of the elegant, leisurely paced neighborhood.

“With all these supermarkets, we’ll be a cold city, like in England,” he said. “We’ll lose that human dimension. My customers chat with me. Supermarkets don’t have time for that.”

The new supermarket down the street — DiperDi, Italian for “day by day” — is a franchise operation affiliated with the French supermarket giant Carrefour. DiperDi has attractive prices and offers old-fashioned home delivery, a plus for Romans who live in centuries-old buildings without elevators.

“We strongly advise [the franchisees] which prices to post. We see the prices in the piazzas, in the neighborhood markets,” Luigi Vialardi, director of neighborhood stores and wholesaling for Carrefour Italia, said from his office in Turin.

Even the people of Italy’s south, where social traditions tend to be stronger, have opened up to supermarkets, Vialardi said.

Mauro Bussoni, a Confesercenti official, said that in allowing supermarkets, government authorities were betting that the new stores would generate more jobs than they might eliminate.

Among the newest on the supermarket payrolls are Silvana Moscatelli’s husband and son, who worked in the family store before it closed last summer.

Posted October 20, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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News: Prehistoric Bread   Leave a comment

A news-story today that potentially threatens some orthodoxies about prehistoric food (Mon 18/2010):

LONDON (Reuters Life!) Starch grains found on 30,000-year-old grinding stones suggest that prehistoric man may have dined on an early form of flat bread, contrary to his popular image as primarily a meat-eater. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal on Monday, indicate that Palaeolithic Europeans ground down plant roots similar to potatoes to make flour, which was later whisked into dough. “It’s like a flat bread, like a pancake with just water and flour,” said Laura Longo, a researcher on the team from the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History. “You make a kind of pita and cook it on the hot stone,” she said, describing how the team replicated the cooking process. The end product was “crispy like a cracker but not very tasty,” she added. The grinding stones, each of which fit comfortably into an adult’s palm, were discovered at archaeological sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic. The researchers said their findings throw mankind’s first known use of flour back some 10,000 years, the previously oldest evidence having been found in Israel on 20,000 year-old grinding stones. The findings may also upset fans of the Paleolithic diet, which follows earlier research that assumes early humans ate a meat-centered diet. Also known as the caveman diet, the regime frowns on carbohydrate-laden foods like bread and cereal, and modern-day adherents eat only lean meat, vegetables and fruit. It was first popularized by the gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin, whose 1975 book lauded the benefits of the hunter-gatherer diet. (Reporting by Brenda Goh, Editing by Steve Addison)

Posted October 18, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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News: Blue Mozzarella   Leave a comment

A news story from the summer that chilled our cheese-loving blood…

A batch of about 70,000 mozzarella balls which turned blue upon opening has been confiscated by food authorities in Italy, officials say. The health ministry said it had activated the European “rapid alert” system to warn of possible contamination, and announced emergency control measures on the cheese. The cheese – made in Germany for an Italian company – has been removed from shelves and samples sent for testing. Mozzarella is Italy’s favourite cheese. About 60% of Italians regularly eat the soft, white cheese, according to the Italian farmers’ group, Coldiretti. The tainted mozzarella was spotted by a shopper in Turin, who noticed it take on a bluish tint when it was exposed to the air. The woman then called the police, national media reported. Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio alerted German authorities and the European Commission about the possible contamination. Initial tests at an institute in Turin found the colouring to be caused by a bacterium, rather than toxic contamination, AFP reported. Analysts suggested the colouring could also indicate the presence of copper, nickel or lead in the milk used to make the cheese, or the solution used to preserve it. The cheese was made for an Italian company, which distributed it to discount supermarkets in the north of the country. Neither the German producer nor the Italian company involved have been named.

Posted October 8, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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