City of Lucca, Italy to ban “ethnic” foods

Fantastic. Hopefully they make sure to get rid of Tuscan foods like potatoes, tomatoes and green beans because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s that doggone junk that’s indigenous to America spoiling Italian classics. If they so much as touch a pumpkin, there’s going to be trouble. Hopefully Lucca doesn’t use olives or olive oil since they originated in Greece. And turkey or cod? Never should either show up since they comes from the Americas. Since lemons originated in east Asia I’m sure they won’t see the kitchen in Lucca, thankfully. Anyone who uses those foreign products ought to be thrown in jail for life.

Maybe someone can work on India and Southeast Asia who wrongly use chilies from America for their curry and soups and everything else. Don’t they know it’s wrong, that we aren’t supposed to include any fusion in food? More cultural exclusion is the direction of the world so let’s get with it folks.

Lucca is the new Freedom Fry.

If you are craving a kebab, tandoori chicken or Peking duck you may go hungry in the small Tuscan city of Lucca, which has just barred new ethnic restaurants from opening in its historic medieval center.

Officials say new rules passed last week by Lucca’s conservative administration aim to protect local specialties from the rising popularity of “different” cuisines. The measure also bans fast food restaurants and hopes to reduce littering within the city’s ancient walls, a magnet for tourists.

“By ethnic cuisine we mean a different cuisine,” city spokesman Massimo Di Grazia said Thursday. “That means no new kebabs, Thai or Lebanese restaurants.”

Di Grazia said ethnic restaurants opened before the measure was passed could stay in business.

The move has sparked accusations of gastronomic racism from opposition politicians and criticism from Italian chefs, who say modern cuisine relies on fusion, the combination of ingredients used in different food traditions.

“It’s a discriminatory ban,” center-left councilman Alessandro Tambellini told the Corriere della Sera daily. “It’s a sign of closure toward different cultures.”

“There is no dish on the face of the Earth that doesn’t come from mixing techniques, products and tastes from cultures that have met and mingled over time,” said Vittorio Castellani, a TV chef and cookbook author.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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29 Responses to “City of Lucca, Italy to ban “ethnic” foods”

  1. M Larsen says:

    Bravisima Lucca. Keep McDonalds, PIzza Hut and the other intruders out of Lucca. If I want a hamburger and french fries I won’t go all the way to Lucca. However, I never go to McDonalds here (South Dkaota). Keep your town authentic.

  2. Melitaea diamina says:

    And it uses tomatoes.

    They have to avoid Sicilian cuisine due to Arabic and Greek influences.

  3. 1556 says:

    OK Chris, lets now talk about the ancient parts of Paris and restrictions there. OK?
    Established shops stay, new ones not allowed. There are hundreds of communities in the United States that have similar laws. How many kabab shops will fit into the medieval section of Lucca? Have you been there? If you have you know the answer. I think this is another food fight between France & Italy.

  4. Zang says:

    Yup, wheat came from the middle east, tomatoes came from the Americas. Same with just about all peppers (except for Asian ones)

  5. Laur says:

    Banning Italian Restaurants in New Jersey?!!! Perish the thought! We WANT tourists from Lucca, damnit!

  6. Laur says:

    I cannot believe that a town in ITALY, of all places, would enact such a ban! It sounds more like something that would be enacted in some backwoods, but then again, tourists don’t visit backwoods hamlets in droves.

    Whom do they wish to discourage from visiting Lucca?

  7. Lol. Somehow I’m picturing an outhouse out back. But if it’s like the “restroom” we encountered in Lucca, it’s an outhouse IN a restaurant. I just don’t get the Italians when it comes to restrooms. Most aren’t as bad as the one in Lucca, but stink seems to be the norm. Then you cross the border into Austria, and everything is “frisch und sauber”.

  8. txstevo says:

    I believe Florence has a similar ban on fast food restaurants (or at least it used to). The city may not have an outright ban on ethnic food establishments but it definitely discourages them. I believe the reason is aesthetics not racism. Florence is not inundated with the tacky shawarma stands and french fry shops you see all over other european cities. It helps to keep the city more charming and authentic and that means more tourists, which of course means more $$$. I imagine Lucca is going for the same thing, trying to position itself as an charming little sidetrip to the tackiness of Pisa.

  9. I’ve seen some bad restrooms in Asia too. But somehow waiting in a line at a perfectly nice restaurant in Lucca only to discover that the “toilet” was an open hole in the floor with no toilet paper was more surprising.

  10. GarySFBCN says:

    No surprise here. Europeans are notoriously racist. Racism and the lack of diversity in the foods available are two issues I struggle with in preparing for my move to Southern Europe.

  11. RevDrBillyBob says:

    Does this ban include . . . nachos-and-melted-children’s-toys ? KFC ? McDonalds ? Taco Hell ? Cheeseburgers ? Just asking . . . .

  12. Zorba says:

    Pasta was known in Italy before Marco Polo ever went to China. However, the Italians didn’t invent it, so pasta has to go, anyway. The current thinking is that boiled pasta was brought to Italy by Arabs.

  13. Muscato says:

    To be fair, I don’t know Lucca, but I can testify that if Rome is any indication, there is some of the sorriest-assed “ethnic” food in the world to be had in Italy. Everywhere you go, peerless, heavenly Italian – and Chinese, Arabic, Thai, Japanese either absent altogether or tasting like it was just glopped out of a very old can. So maybe it’s not that big a loss – however xenophonic – to lose one more horrid den of greasy curry, bland kebab, and tragic kung pao?

  14. Amaliada says:

    I just read Mark Kurlansky’s Salt and evidently cod is or was indigenous to Italy. (Actually its a great book looking at world history through the lens of salt.) Also, southern Italy was colonized by the Greeks (as was Nice in France) and played an integral part of the Peloponnesian War.

  15. Indigo says:

    Try traveling in rural Georgia! (Georgia, USA, I mean!)

  16. Indigo says:

    No more Chinese noodles imported by Marco Polo means no more pasta! Eh!

  17. Panasit Ch says:

    It is only a threat if the people like it. If they won’t eat it, the restaurant will be out of business. It’s like banning a film. Like that arizona town banning Brokeback Mountain. Saying people shouldn’t see it? If people don’t like it, they wont’ say it. There’s no need to force their hand and let it not be the option. Taking an option away is the opposite of free will.

    The fact is, people eat 3 times a day. What’ s wrong with having Italian for breakfast lunch but then Chinese for dinner? This is almost as nuts as network channel are competing. Watch only ABC! Watch only NBC! Watch only Fox News, don’t watch CNN. IThere is no such thing as channel loyalty, because every channel no matter how many quality show it has there comes it time when it air craps. So is the food, no matter how good it is, too much of it people will get sick of it. People eat 84 meal a month, do all of those have to be Italian?

    I’m Thai, and our food are strong in taste and the flavor is really at the surface. Italian food flavor sort of baked in and hidden within the pasta and the sauce. That’s why most Thai dislike Italian cuisine because there are almost tasteless, and any taste would be either sour or oily.

    But I’m a Thai person who loves Italian food, and people in Italy who will eat at Thai restaurant are Italian who may want to try Thai food. What is so damn evil about that?

  18. Ooooh look! String. says:

    On the one hand I can see why such palate born protectionism serves a righteous purpose as far as culture/tourism is concerned, and to confuse the issue by widening the debate from actual dishes to include their ingredients is kinda missing the point.

    On t’other hand though; those Italians can be as annoyingly uptight about food as the French, and you spell Conservative with a capital M in dem dar parts…

  19. okojo says:

    Strawberries are a hybrid of a couple strains of strawberries by a French botanist with a Chilean variety as the main one that gives the modern strawberry its size. Peppers originated from the Americas as well.

    It leaves the Lucca, with some mineral water that are “Non-Exotic” staples, and probably a nettle or two.

  20. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Honey, I’ve seen restrooms in Asia that would turn your hair white.

  21. naschkatze says:

    Peppers. Aren’t peppers from the New World too?

  22. okojo says:

    There are these great record keeper of culinary dishes: cookbooks. Why we know that the Tuscan, Catherine de Medici had an enormous influence on French Cooking, and we know how Russians made a big influence of how dishes are served today… The culinary diversity doesn’t even come close to Amazonian diversity..

    This ordinance is just racism in disguise. “Exotic” restaurants proliferate because there is a demand for them. This ordinance/law doesn’t protect uniqueness but a way to attack resident aliens in Italy. Much of every staple in any Italian dish relies on “exotic” food and spices.. tomato being as un Italian in origin as possible.

    How do you think almonds were created?, probably out of the compost piles of some Iranian/Persian thousands of years ago… Where do Artichoke come from?, (North Africa, and they are in the Thistle family) None of these foods would be considered un Italian, but they got to Italy the same way these exotic Restaurants got to Italy.

    Now if they banned Italian Restaurants in New Jersey, I may up for that…. even though New Jersey would cease to exist.

  23. I don’t care if they ban Italian food. They need to do something about their restrooms!

  24. Gerhard kleinhans says:

    I have to disagree on this one. In a country as steeped in centuries of culinary tradition as Italy, practically every village and town boasts their own specific kitchen, often limited to a surprisingly small geographic area. This represents a culinary diversity that is as valuable as the Amazonian bio-diversity. As contradictory as it may seem at first, the unchecked proliferation of ‘exotic’ restaurants (I think the word ‘ethnic’ is inappropriate here, local Luccan dished are as ethnic as any other) poses a serous threat. I’m sure the citizen’s of Lucca will have no difficulty finding a kebab when the need strikes, as there are bound to be kazillions of them in the neighbouring towns and villages. The issue is not where the ingredients originated, but how to protect unique and valuable diversity.

  25. unrepentant_expat says:

    The measure also bans fast food restaurants and hopes to reduce littering within the city’s ancient walls, a magnet for tourists.

    Ahhh… a silver lining.

  26. vkobaya says:

    if they are honest they will ban pasta too since we know Marco Polo brought that from China. No more spaghetti, lasagna, fettuccini, linguini, and ravioli which is just Italian won ton.

    They also had better ban all pork products since the domestic pig originated in S. East Asia and therefore is a contaminant of pure Italian cuisine, is a cultural import even that importation occurred several thousand years ago.

  27. okojo says:

    Pizza is Neopolitan, so it is technically “ethnic”, given that it is Mezzogiorno, and a different world than Tuscany.

  28. okojo says:

    Forget Polenta, (ie Corn) , Tiramisu (ie coffee and or Cocoa) Zabalone and Panna Cotta (ie Vanilla), beside anything that isn’t figs, wheat and legumes.

    Oh, the tomato sauce, that is ethnic, (besides Vanilla, Chocolate and Corn) that came from that very ethnic group, the Aztecs.

  29. Jeff says:

    Pizza OK?

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