The Ugly Side of Italian Food Culture

A town council in Lucca, Italy, this week banned any new ethnic food outlets from opening within the town’s ancient city walls. The ban later spread to Milan, also run by the country’s center-right political apparatus.

The rationale for the ban, according to a report in the London Times:

“The antiimmigrant Northern League party brought in the restrictions ‘to protect local specialties from the growing popularity of ethnic cuisines’ ... Davide Boni, a councilor in Milan for the Northern League, which also opposes the building of mosques in Italian cities, said that kebab shop owners were prepared to work long hours, which was unfair competition.”

This, of course, misses two valuable points. First, a good chunk of even the most Italian of dishes were immigrants themselves at some point (the tomato, for example, arrived from Peru in the 18th century). Second, hard work and competition are usually seen as good things in the long run for the health of any worthwhile enterprise—not “unfair.”