Benvenuto a Tutto Italiano
In 2016, Italy exported $456 billion and imported $401 billion in products, making it the eighth largest exporter and importer in the world. Its top three export destinations are Germany, France, and the United States; the top three countries it imports from are Germany, France, and China. Machinery, packaged medicaments, and cars are its top three exports; machinery, chemical products, and cars are its top three imports.
According to the International Trade Administration, “Most raw materials and ingredients are imported, as Italy’s economic strength is in the processing and the manufacturing of goods, primarily in small and medium-sized family-owned firms.” The Italy - Agricultural Sector of the ITA notes “In 2016, U.S. agricultural, fish, and forestry exports to Italy were $1.1 billion, whereas, U.S. imports from Italy reached $4.4 billion. … The northern part of Italy produces primarily grains, soybeans, meat, and dairy products, while the south specializes in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat. … Italy is one of the largest agricultural producers and food processors in the European Union (EU).”
This year, Italy is the top wine-producing country, followed by France and Spain; but it is second to Spain in wine export. A 2017 analysis of the Italian food industry identifies it as a “key economic supply chain for the Italian economy” and “a basic asset for the country.” The report by The European House – Ambrosetti (a consulting group), in collaboration with Federalimentare (a consortium of food and drink associations), and Fiera di Parma (trade show specialists), analyzed “the scenario of the Italian food industry in terms of international growth…and the prospects for export growth.”
Food export is a growing category, “in 2016 [it] rose by +65.4%, compared with +16.1% for total exports.” The report also mentions, “Italian agrifood [is] at the top of the list of what are known as the Made in Italy “4As” that have made the country famous throughout the world: abbigliamento/clothing (€23.5 billion), arredo/furnishings (€21.3 billion) and automazione/automotive (€36.3 billion).”
While the food industry is growing, it does face two obstacles. One is the fragmented food production supply chain and the other is products that sound Italian. Italy is a land of tradition, and many Italian companies are small- or medium-size family owned businesses. The benefits are superior product quality and more specialized products; the disadvantages are higher production costs and a lack of unification among suppliers.
Italian sounding – a product or company – is sometimes referred to as “Italian food piracy” or “counterfeit Italian food.” A classic example is Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). Throughout the world, various forms of the Italian sounding “Parmesan” are sold. It’s estimated that the loss of sales to Italian sounding food products is millions of Euros a year.
Another way that Italy promotes its agriculture is through agriturismo – farmhouse holidays. “The history of the agriturismo began in Italy in 1965, but the first official Italian farmhouse was created in 1973.” The European Union and Italian law support agriturismo as an integral part of economic growth in agriculture, employment, tourism, and farm ownership. The laws also regulate agriturismi: the farm must be owned independently and provide 51 percent of the farmer’s income; the agriturismo must provide meals using food grown or raised on the property; and the agriturismo must offer some type of rural activity such as harvesting produce, horseback riding, wine tastings, or other local cultural experiences.
Italian food and wine have always been important commodities in Italy’s trade industry and Italy continues to recognize and sustain their growth.
Keeping Farmers on the Land: Agritourism in the European Union (2004)
Get Into Italian Wine
Report from Vinitaly 2017
The 10 Best Wineries to Visit in Italy
Only Real Made in Italy, Not Italian Sounding!
Italians in California
For over 35 years, the Italian Cultural Society in Sacramento, California has been a beacon for the northern California Italian-American community by inspiring “generations of Italian-Americans to preserve their culture and identity and their language and traditions.” Its Italian Language School “gives students a real understanding of Italian culture, customs, food and people, while emphasizing the pleasure and beauty of Italian language and culture.”
This year, the Society held its “32nd Festa Italiana … one of the largest Italian festivals in the region … a showcase of Italian-American culture, food, and tradition.” The 2017 “Festa featured continuous entertainment with Italian musicians, singers and folk dancers;” an Italian Car Show; an Italian Marketplace with “vendors serving food samples, Italian cookies, sauces, pastas, olive oils,” and more; a wine tasting booth; and the Bocce and Children’s Piazza.
“Since 1988, the Italian Cultural Society has offered unique, carefully crafted tours to many Italian regions.” With a “focus only on Italy,” the cultural organization has “a deep knowledge of Italy’s history, artistic patrimony, geography and culture.”
At its Italian American Museum and Cultural Center of Northern California, the Society houses three permanent exhibits documenting the history of Italians and Italian-Americans in California: “Nostra Storia, The Italian American Legacy in the Gold Country,” “The Italians of Sacramento: Family , Cultural and Community,” and “The Legacy Of Italian American Legislators in the California State Legislature.”
Italians from northern Italy settled in California before the mass migration of Italians to the eastern states of America in the late 1800s. The Gold Rush brought Italians to California, and many stayed to establish “themselves in the mining, cattle ranching, lumbering, construction and stone masonry, fruit and vegetable market gardening, orchard, grocery, olive oil, railroading, mercantile, banking, restaurant, hotel and boarding house, and the vineyard and wine industries of the California Gold Country.” Learn more at the Italians in California virtual exhibit.
In Honor of Italian Culture
The beautiful, historic Italian National Church, Our Lady of Loreto, built in Brooklyn by Italian immigrants from 1906 to 1908, has been torn down. On October 13th, the church was destroyed. The next day, local dignitaries and the community – those who supported having the church converted into an arts and culture center – attended a service in memory of Our Lady of Loreto.
Our Lady of Loreto is a pile of rubble (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 2017)
Brooklyn’s Our Lady of Loreto Church has been demolished (NY Curbed, October2017)
A Nostalgic Look Back (Great Photos)
From the Italian American Press
The holidays are rapidly approaching, but before panic sets in as to what presents to buy, go to the Italian American Press and give a gift of Italian culture. From children’s books to memoirs, art, history, food (see two below), the supernatural, or the natural beauty of Italy, there’s a book for every interest. Support authors of Italian heritage who write about Italian American and Italian culture, and help preserve Italian American heritage and history.
Book Overview and Author Interview: Italian Through Food by Andrea Parisi
It’s rare to find someone who visited Italy and didn’t like the food. Most people rave about it, and are especially enamored with the small local eateries – whether a restaurant, an agriturismo, or a private home. When Andrea Parisi (born and raised in America) moved to Italy, she learned “the importance of good food.” When she returned to the States, she combined her knowledge of Italian food with teaching Italian language and developed a workshop for learning Italian through food.
Like the courses in a well-planned meal, the lessons in Italian Through Food are skillfully presented. The book begins with the basics of Italian language – punctuation rules and ‘Three Important Things Everyone Should Know …” – and the history of food in Italy. The next section is devoted to specific food groups, followed by a section titled “Conversational skills for purchasing and ordering foods, where and when Italians eat.” The last section covers “taste and quality, recipes, and food traditions,” along with a glossary of more than 500 Italian words.
The easy-to-follow format of the individual units in each section identifies what readers will learn and provides exercises and reviews, with answers available on the Italian Through Food website. Anyone interested in Italian food or Italian language will find Italian Through Food an enjoyable and educational book.
What inspired you to write your book? I was born and raised in the USA, but it wasn’t until I moved to Italy that I truly learned how to eat well. I wanted to create a book that would provide readers with a window into this marvelous food culture, and also give them the language skills they could use to further explore la cucina Italiana on their own.
What is the most important attribute of your book? Italian Through Food places equal emphasis on exploring Italian food culture and learning the language. My own teaching experience has shown that once the topic turns to food, students light up and really get engaged. So in this book, language and food are inseparable, you study both together.
Why should someone read it? Whether you’re a newbie to the language or someone who’s taken years of Italian courses, you’ll enjoy reading through the story of how the Italians transformed ordinary nourishment into one of the greatest pleasures in life.
Read how Andrea’s students helped her write the book. Full interview on the Italian American Press. (Scroll down.)
Book Overview and Author Interview: Big Mamma’s Italian-American Cookbook by Lee Casazza
When Italian immigrants settled in America, they kept their food traditions, but adapted them to the foods that were readily available; and Italian food evolved into Italian-American food. When Southern-born Lee married an Italian-American, she adopted his family’s recipes, and became an Italian-American cook.
Building on the recipes going back to her husband’s great-grandmother “Big Mamma,” Lee was inspired to create some of her own, and many of the recipes became the collection in Big Mamma’s Italian-American Cookbook. Lee starts her book with several “Notes and Tips,” and provides some family history dating back to the late 1800s. Chapters cover Appetizers (Antipasti), Salads (Insalate), Soups (Zuppe), Pizza & Focaccia, Pasta & Gnocchi, Chicken (Pollo), Meats (Carni), Seafood (Frutti di Mare), Eggs (Uova), Side Dishes (Contorni), and Sweets (Dolci). A separate section in the Index lists recipes that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
Recipes also contain some “notes and tips,” and are accompanied by full color photographs, all taken by Lee “immediately before the dishes were served.” Accomplished cooks and novices alike will not only find the recipes tempting, but also find them easy to prepare. For novices, the recipes are also easy to understand, but even an accomplished cook will appreciate the convenience.
What inspired you to write your book?
I wrote this cookbook because of my love for authentic Italian-American and Italian food. I was taught original family recipes that were passed down by three generations of my husband’s Italian family. This ignited my passion for cooking everything Italian and Italian-American for the past fifty years.
What is the most important attribute of your book?
I offer many popular Italian-American recipes that people know and many they’ve never tasted before. There are even new ones I created on my own. All of my recipes come with a color photo of the actual food, just as they were served in our home.
Why should someone read it?
My cookbook is the story of family and the home-style, authentic Italian-American food that we all love. I provide recipe origins, easy instructions, personal tips, advice on the best and healthiest ingredients. Now, anyone can cook delicious dishes from Italy and America!
Read Lee’s suggestions for an Italian-American holiday meal. Full interview on the Italian American Press.
Buon anno, buon tutto, buona vita,
Janice Therese Mancuso
Author of Con Amore
The Italian American Press
Thirty-One Days of Italians
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November 2017: Volume 14, Issue 11©2017 by Janice Therese Mancuso. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission except when quoted for promotional purposes. Publish with this credit: Excerpted from Tutto Italiano ©2017 by Janice Therese Mancuso. www.jtmancuso.com