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Grana Padano
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Giotto or Raffaello, Verdi or Beethoven? Inter or Milan? As opposed to the last of these comparisons, which is easily resolved in favour of the first team, aren’t the first two as objectively difficult to answer, as it is difficult to say which is the best cooking in the world? Every nation believes that it eats better than all others. The French have been so certain of being the best that, for years now, they have isolated themselves into a ball of self-exultation. It might even appear that the most recent NASA space mission was, in reality, a mission to rescue the French who’d already arrived on Mars.

More seriously, however, we must remind ourselves that traditional Mexican and French cuisines have been declared intangible cultural patrimonies of humanity by UNESCO, while Italian cooking has simply been relegated under Mediterranean diet in order to receive a somewhat comparable recognition. This serious mistake should be corrected by trying gain Italian cuisine, in and of itself, this recognition which it doubtlessly deserves.

The majority of Italians are ready to claim that we have the world’s best cuisine. This is a claim, however, often made without knowledge of the facts, in a somewhat nondescript manner, covering the eyes with classic, yet still excellent slices of local salami. It is, nevertheless, a case of sustainable national pride and, furthermore, we certainly are one of the world’s oenogastronomic super-powers. Those of us who work in different sectors of restaurant service in Italy and, even more so, those of us who work abroad should, before making claims of triumphalism, take our work more seriously. The competition is really tough and being Italian simply isn’t enough to be a great chef, have great restaurants and the best products. Being a super-power just isn’t enough to maintain these qualities. Abroad, it is essential to understand that we don’t only represent ourselves and our interests; in a special way, we represent Italy and our culture, if for no other reason than because it is our guests who offer us work and do so because they see us as being such representatives.

If we accepted all of these responsibilities, we would finally succeed in creating a movement, a system, a model of Italian oenogastronomy, in which everyone would work together, united, rather than for their own glory, to promote the entire system, without ridiculous jealousies and the pettiness of village clerical ceremonies, because too often Italians abroad do themselves the worst damage. Let’s promote professionalism, let’s isolate the sly guys and gals and those who strive to improvise something they’re not. Let’s help the small Italian producers to export that which is their best. Let’s exclude all those who take advantage of the all-too-typically Italian shortcuts. The French have worked in this manner and have thus obtained great results. Let’s follow that example while keeping our feet on the ground. Then and only then, other than having the most popular cooking in the world, we could think of our cuisine as being the best. Whatever, let’s let it be others to state this claim, it’d certainly be worth far more.

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