Italians are ready to say “basta pasta!” No, the Atkins Diet has not finally reached the nation founded on maccheroni, ravioli, gnocchi and penne.
They will be putting down their forks in a national “Spaghetti Strike” Sept. 13 to protest price hikes of up to 25%.
It’s the most galling in a series of price increases consumer watchdogs reported this fall — Italian families will fork out an estimated extra 1,000 euros this year on food, household items and textbooks — and the only one warranting a day of dissent.
After all, this is the top pasta consuming nation in the world: Bel Paese residents eat slightly more than Paris Hilton’s weight (119 pounds, 54 kilos) in pasta every year.
Because 24 hours without tortellini is expected to be tragic — some Italians prefer pasta to passion — volunteers from consumer groups will hand out bread and milk free to those on carb withdrawal in piazzas throughout the country.
The increase may have been spurred by an increasing demand for grain for ethanol used in bio-fuels, similar to the one that caused Mexico’s recent tortilla revolt.
Consumer watchdogs aren’t having any of it, though, and say the increases are just due to speculation. They hope the day of abstinence from the national dish will make pasta giants consider reducing prices instead of increasing them.
As an expat, I can easily skip pasta for a day — it relieves me from the dilemma of matching pasta types to the correct sauce and correctly gauging perfect al dente cooking — but for the average family, renouncing the dish will be difficult.