Monday, October 17, 2011

Italian town bans any new kebab shops or other 'ethnic food'

Forte dei Marmi, a leafy beachfront retreat for politicians, artists and writers on the Tuscan coast, has rebutted accusations that the prohibition is xenophobic and small-minded.

The town's council, which passed the decree unanimously this week, said the ban also applied to more familiar "foreign" establishments such as burger joints and English-style pubs.

The move is the latest expression of a culinary nationalism that is sweeping the country, as Italians struggle to hold onto centuries-old culinary traditions in the face of globalisation and immigration.

"This measure has nothing to do with xenophobia – it is about protecting and valuing our culture," said Umberto Buratti, the centre-Left mayor of the town. "We would also say no to American hamburger chains." The ban is aimed at encouraging the survival of Tuscan and Italian cuisine, although existing "ethnic" restaurants will not be closed down.

"There's a sushi takeaway, although it's not in the town centre," said the mayor. "You will still be able to eat ethnic food, we just want to limit the number of outlets." Forte dei Marmi has become popular in recent years with rich Russian tourists and a restaurant serving Russian food opened recently. more