From the Guardian:
Italy‘s Northern League is not just anti-immigration. It’s anti-kebab. The agriculture minister, Luca Zaia, a league member, said that Italy must block the arrival of all food that had nothing to do with the country’s rich agricultural heritage. What, like tomatoes, which came from Peru, or pasta, which probably arrived from China? Fired with gastronomic xenophobia, some cities have banned new ethnic food shops from opening on their patch. The town of Lucca set the way in January, followed by Altopascio, where a kebab shop was firebombed. Bergamo, Genoa and Prato all followed suit in what La Stampa, the daily newspaper, called a new Lombard crusade against the Saracens. Lucca councillors are outraged at the suggestion that this is racism, directed primarily against the immigrant owners of foreign food outlets. They claim that all they are doing is to protect their culinary patrimony in a campaign that is as much directed at McDonald’s as it is at kebab restaurants. A fatwa has been declared against the use of French butter in parliament, and illegal Chinese vegetables have been uprooted in Tuscany. (What, by the way, is an illegal Chinese vegetable?) Forced on to the back foot, leading kebab chefs presented all-Italian ingredients for their kebabs at a food convention in Milan last week. Happily, the Northern League is finding it difficult to determine which food is ethnic. French restaurants pass muster, but Sicilian cuisine, heavily influenced by Arab cooking, must also be a cause for grave concern.