New food and restaurant laws draw concern that preservation of culture negatively targets immigrants and minorities

Thousands, if not more, are dissenting a regional law passed this week that regulates how fast-food restaurants and takeout shops may sell the food they produce. The law, which applies to any food or bar establishment, says that selling anything other than what they themselves produce on site, is not allowed to be sold to customers.

Many who protested the law say that the measure is an anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner law disguised as food regulation, and that the law was aimed at fast-food restaurants run by immigrants.

The measure was approved Tuesday by the center-right majority, but was championed by the conservative Northern League, as a means to preserve the traditional identity of Italian cities. “In its original form the law was more racist — it was specifically geared to get kebab shops out of the city center,” said Giuseppe Civati, a regional lawmaker.

The idea of “gastronomic contamination” is a façade for racial, cultural, and ethnic contamination that is feared in Italy’s growing concerns with culture. Supporters of the law say that it finally regulates a sector that had existed in a confused legislative status for years.

Ethnic food may be off the menu in Roman schools

Ethnic menus in public schools are scheduled to be re-evaluated, and replaced with Italian regional dishes as well as typical Mediterranean cuisine said Laura Marsillo, city councilor for schools in Rome. Also on the agenda, are plans to re-evaluate centers where parents of immigrant children and their relatives are taught Italian laws, computer classes, and the Italian language — all under examination concerning their effectiveness for integration. The plans appear to be part of the latest gestures by the country’s new centre-right government to target multiculturalism in Italy.

Immigrant chefs taking strong presence in Italian restaurants

The International Herald Tribune features an expose on the rising number of immigrant chefs taking a strong presence in Italy – a phenomenon causing debate concerning the strong national image of famed Italian cuisine. The article features several chefs of Indian, Tunisian, Jordanian, and other non-natives gaining respect for their work in the kitchen, and earning praise from prestigious restaurant reviewers. The author of the article writes: Italians take their food very seriously, not just as nourishment and pleasure but as a chief component of national and regional identity. Quotes in the article display both favorable and unfavorable opinions concerning the presence of non-Italian chefs, the introduction of new ingredients and spices to dishes, and immigration in the country as a whole.