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Slow Food on the Silver Screen


Focaccia: a cushy, slightly oily slab of carbohydrate goodness. Topped with cherry tomatoes, olives or onions it makes pizza fall flat and is one of the few foods with that special license to be eaten on Italian streets while still retaining one’s dignity.
Who wouldn’t rather eat that than McDonald’s? No so long ago, Italians thought that pre-fab food would have the better of local specialities. When the first golden arches opened in Rome in the late 80s, Carlo Petrini launched the Slow Food movement in an attempt to save Italian cuisine.

Petrini’s story, however, isn’t the one to turn celluloid. “You Want to Be An American” (Tu vo’ fa’ l’ammericano) is a movie, still in the works, about a brave breadman in a place called Altamura, in Puglia. It’s easy to go on about local Italian breads, but the high, slightly yellow loaves from this southeastern region have been appreciated since 37 a.d. when Horatio wrote home about it. These people know their baked goods.
So when Ronald McDonald flapped his clown shoes into the hamlet, baker Onofrio Pepe was having none of it.
In a brash, Yankee-style move he opened a focacceria right next door. And drove McBacon out of business in 18 months.
Now his story is being made into a docu-fiction with the baker in a starring role. The trailer is worth a look: see flame-shirted, Corvette-driving “American” race into idyllic Italian town. See baker get steamed. See baker bring foccaccia to New York. See baker stand with his focaccia in front of the statue of Garibaldi in Central Park. See him hand it out to local heathens with surprising results.
It’s a good thing no one’s ever tried a mass importation of bagels here. It would’ve been ugly.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 2:12 PM | Permalink

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