Italy's Mediterranean diet might soon have the same status as a World Heritage Site – as the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge or the Pyramids. That, by the end of this year, the cuisine of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and olive oil might be as protected as the Great Barrier Reef, the Statue of Liberty or, indeed, the Dolomites.
In 2003, Unesco launched a list of “intangible cultural heritage” that would compliment its vast collection of places of international importance. This strange cultural heritage list safeguards traditions; it already features the tango (Argentina), lace-making (Croatia) and polyphonic singing (Georgia and the Central African Republic). And now Italy is hoping to add to its current contribution of Sicilian puppet theatre and Sardinian pastoral songs, by suggesting that Mediterranean cuisine joins the list.
Italy, along with Greece, Spain and Morocco, first made a submission four years ago, but the proposal was turned down. The countries have now re-submitted it, hoping that by underlining the cultural importance of the diet, the delicious Italian food will make the grade when Unesco meet to discuss the matter in November.
It is surprising what passes for “Italian” food. For example. Try eating spaghetti bolognese in the UK or the USA– real bolognese is simply meat, tomato sauce, onions, wine and vegetables, served with tagliatelle, not oodles of garlic and spaghetti (in Italy there aee over 600 types of pasta, all of which go with certain sauces). And what some people have done to the pizza - deep pan! Pineapples on them! UGH!
In Italy, the emphasis is on fresh, seasonal food – fruit and vegetables are as important , if not more so, than meat and vegetables. Ask yourself, what would you prefer? A ripe peach that is free from your garden, or one that has been sitting in a box in a supermarket, having flown many miles to be there?
Italians enjoy eating, but they eat sensibly, in moderation. Despite their obsession with food, they have low levels of obesity. If only the USA was as obsessed!!!