The Second Annual World Week of Italian Cuisine, held in Los Angeles on November 13-19, is an initiative of the Italian Government to support the quality of Italian cuisine abroad, in order to increase the distribution and the presence of the Italian products across the world. More than a thousand initiatives were held in 296 countries worldwide.
The event in Los Angeles, as in all other cities across the US, opened a week before due to the Thanksgiving celebrations at the end of the month. Coordinated by the Italian Consulate, the Los Angeles program included exhibitions, demos, masterclasses, workshops, movies, conferences and galas, all promoting Italian territories and DOP products.
This year’s edition was particularly focused on the Mediterranean Diet, sustainability and food authenticity, the latter important because of the proliferation of counterfeit Italian products sold as real, especially abroad.
Consul General Antonio Verde has underlined that “This new edition of the Week confirms the importance of the joint effort of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation with the Ministry for Agricultural Policies, Food and Forestry in support of culinary and gastronomic excellence, as a distinctive sign of Italian identity and culture.” The Consul General also recalled the involvement of the entire “Los Angeles ‘Team Italy:’ the Italian Cultural Institute, the Trade and Tourism Agency, the Italian American Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Academy of Cuisine.”
The Los Angeles program also involved Cinema Italian Style, the annual festival dedicated to the best of Italian film production. This year’s bond further strengthened the connection between “Oscar-worthy” cinema and cuisine in Los Angeles. Organized by Luce-Cinecittà, Cinema Italian Style officially introduced to Hollywood Jonas Carpignano’s movie A Ciambra, Italy’s entry for the 2018 Academy Awards.
The relationship between Italian food and Italian movies was promoted through many other initiatives like the photographic exhibition Cinema and Food, about the cinematic representation of Italian food habits in the 20th century, as well as the presentation of the book Bread, Love and Dreams, The Taste of Italian Cinema by Laura Delli Colli, journalist, writer and Artistic Director of Cinema Italian Style Film Festival: the book illustrates the interaction between food and cinema, from the post WWII era to present days. Always related to the bond between cinema and food was also the screening of the documentary film Pizza... and Art of Living by Matteo Troncone, dedicated to Neapolitan culinary art and lifestyle.
Renowned Italian restaurants that earned the trademarks of distinction “Q” and “AIC,” once again presented special menus with evocative images and emotions from Italian cinematic culture to honor the international capital of cinema.
High quality ingredients from areas affected by Italy’s recent earthquakes were used, as a gesture of solidarity and concrete assistance to boost local challenged economies. Joining the Consul General, as a special guest from Italy, was famous starred Chef Leandro Luppi, from Restaurant Vecchia Malcesine on Lake Garda. He embodied a great link between Cinema Italian Style and the Week, celebrating Italy’s excellence in the culinary and cinematic arts in a synthesis of flavors and images for the Cinema Italian Style Gala.
Leandro Luppi, along with Fratelli Drago, the renowned Los Angeles-based family of Sicilian restaurateurs, cooked together for the exclusive reception organized by the Consul General at his residence. The famous chef’s goal was to showcase prestigious national DOP products and different Italian culinary traditions, to bring into the spotlight the extraordinary richness of Italy’s gastronomy. “An excellent mix between the Northern and the Southern cooking traditions, so very different but yet with the same love for food” he told us.
Guests at the reception were directors and actors from Cinema Italian Style, like Claudio Sanataria, Jasmine Trinca and Francesco Bruni, along with other known personalities from the Italian-American community in Los Angeles, like Romina Power, Clarissa Burt, Paul Sorvino, Evan Handler and Martha De Laurentiis. Great interest was given to the matching of quality food and quality wine.
For the first time, the Week also reached Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, where various activities were organized to support the campaign to include the Prosecco Hills of Valdobbiadene in the UNESCO cultural heritage list. A similar campaign was held to support the Art of the Neapolitan Pizza and Pizzaiuoli: more than 2 million signatures were collected and should be announced at the end of this year. Enzo Coccia, famous pizzaiolo of the award-winning Neapolitan Pizzeria La Notizia opened the event La Pizza Sposa l’Alta Cucina, a tasting panel focused on the evolution of pizza into a gourmet product.
A similar initiative was also Pizza from A to Z, again in support of Neapolitan pizza for the UNESCO candidacy, and organized in collaboration with Peppe Miele, President of the Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Association in the California district.
What are the goals for the future of the Week, at the end of this rich edition? The Consul has no doubt about it. Italy is involved in the battle against the so-called “Italian-sounding:” foreign products that pretend to be Italian and end up damaging both producers and consumers, who buy products believing they are Italian, but have little to do with the originals. The goal is to increase awareness about the differences between counterfeit and original products, highlighting the benefits of the latter from an organoleptic point of view, as these products are protected by DOC, DCG and DOP trademarks.
“Numbers are growing and Italy is trendy, cinema-wise and cooking-wise,” concludes Consul Antonio Verde.