The Null Device
Several Italian cities with right-wing governments are banning foreign restaurants. The initiatives are supported by the xenophobic right-wing Northern League, though undoubtedly got considerable moral support from Silvio Berlusconi's brand of culture-war tabloid conservatism:
Luca Zaia, the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the Northern League from the Veneto region, applauded the authorities in Lucca and Milan for cracking down on nonItalian food. “We stand for tradition and the safeguarding of our culture,” he said.
Asked if he had ever eaten a kebab, Mr Zaia said: “No – and I defy anyone to prove the contrary. I prefer the dishes of my native Veneto. I even refuse to eat pineapple.”The scary thing is that such wilful ignorance, rather than being regarded with pity or scorn, is lauded by many as a virtue.
Of course, the ban on foreign cuisine is not as cut-and-dry as it might seem; it's not all foreigners that are targeted, only those sinister dark-skinned ones from the east.
There is confusion, however, over what is meant by ethnic. Mr Di Grazia said that French restaurants would be allowed. He was unsure, though, about Sicilian cuisine. It is influenced by Arab cooking.