McItaly Burger: McDonald's Teams Up With Italian Government For New Item

From the land that brought you such staples of modern cuisine as pizza, pasta, risotto and tiramisu, comes a new classic - the McItaly- and Silvio Berlusconi's government are welcoming it with open arms.

The burgers (there are two), are made with all Italian produce and will go on sale today for at least seven weeks. They feature unusual toppings - one has artichoke spread, Asiago cheese, and lettuce, while the other will feature Italian olive oil, onion and smoked pancetta.

Perhaps more unusually, Luca Zaia, Berlusconi's Agriculture Minister, was on hand for a press event on Wednesday to help prepare a burger. "This sandwich has great ambitions," he said while wearing a McDonald's apron

Some reactions have been less then positive. Over at The Guardian's Word of Mouth foodblog, Matthew Fort has called the burgers a "monstrous act of national betrayal" - and further evidence that the controversial Berlusconi government cares more about money than the pride of the Italian people.

Fort points to the hegemony of McDonald's burgers versus the delights of Italian regional cuisine:

For many Italians, their very sense of identity lies in the food, not just of the region in which they were born, but of the town, village, hamlet, even house. And they hold to the superiority of their local produce and dishes with passion. That is why eating your way round Italy is such a continual delight. Pleasure lies in diversity, not homogeneity. Who wants to eat the same stuff the whole world over? It's boring. It's the kind of global mind-numbing sameness and taste bud-mugging mediocrity that McDonald's embodies. No-one in their right mind can see McDonald's as either a force for good in the world or as representing the sunny uplands of gastronomy.

According to reports, the burger will add $3.6 million to the Italian economy due to its use of local produce. But can that money fill the hole in Italian national pride?

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