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Feb 9, 2009 01:31 PM

"culinary racism"

Did anyone else read in this issue of Time Magazine " What they are banning in Tuscany" ?

Looks as if the city council of Lucca , Italy's Tuscany region, is taking a big step to "safeguard Lucca's traditional cultural Identity"
They passed a rule denying licenses for any non-Italian restaurants in town!
Now In Lucca , Thanks to this rule,you will not find kebabs,Peking duck and even the almighty Big Mac is out! McDonald's banned ! Therefore being dubbed as "culinary racism"

Now I'm usually against racism of any kind <unless you consider my hatred against ugly shoes such as crocks racist> I say BRAVO LUCCA BRAVO !
Salute Lucca, and here's to tradition.
What do you think?

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  1. My understanding of the measure is that it limits what types of eateries can exist within the walls of the old city, home to approximately 10% of the city's residents. So, it would seem to be simply a zoning ordinance restricting what kinds of businesses can exist in the old city as opposed to an citywide ban on non-Lucchese restaurants.

    In my (American) city, we have designated historic districts where the municipality places restrictions on what modifications can be made to the exteriors of homes within the districts. It sounds like Lucca is simply trying to establish maintain a more or less "historically correct" district focusing on cuisine, rather than architecture.

    I can see where the people making the racism argument are coming from, but I think they are resorting to a bit of hyperbole here.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hohokam

      If you are talking about having select restaurants within the historic (tourist) district that will reflect the history then I think it's fine. If it's just a way to keep McD's or KFC or something like that out, then no, it's not fine.

      As for the argument that Walmart and McD's are "Ruining the landscape" perhaps they should roll up their sleeves and get busy at city hall trying to pass building appearance codes. There are plenty of low key McD's and WM's in other parts of the country.


      1. re: Davwud

        "If you are talking about having select restaurants within the historic (tourist) district that will reflect the history then I think it's fine. If it's just a way to keep McD's or KFC or something like that out, then no, it's not fine."

        Davwud, your post is utter nonsense. Lucca seems to want to maintain some sense of culinary and architectural beauty. They don't want chain restaurants or fast food in certain parts of town. You are not entitled to decide what is, or what is not, "fine" for them. And it looks like the folks at Lucca city hall have already rolled up their sleeves and gotten busy.

        And for the record, folks, loathing corporate food pushers is not "racism". It's "sanity".

        1. re: uptown jimmy

          If you read the rest of the comments in this thread, not to mention the original post, you'll note that Lucca's ordinance is not about protecting the town center from "corporate food pushers," but rather ethnic food pushers. Hence the cries of "racism." No need to go ad hominem on Davwud.

          1. re: JungMann

            I was replying to Davwud's post, nothing else. I meant what I wrote.


    2. More cities should do this. McDonald's is an eyesore in Sante Fe and Wall Mart has ruined the landscape of Taos. And has anyone been to Phoenix lately? Enough with the boxes and strip malls!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Leper

        Phoenix is a pretty different story. There is little left of "old Phoenix" and what is left isn't that old. So, it's hard to figure out where such a heritage zone would be located and what specific cultural identity(ies) would be up for consideration.

        Of course, this second part is true for most medium-to-large cities in the United States. After all, we pride ourselves on the fact that our country is a destination for immigrants from many cultural backgrounds. As such, most of our cities have tended to be much more heterogeneous and fluid in terms of ethnic/cultural makeup than many cities in Europe.

        I find it hard to imagine zoning restrictions in Phoenix along the lines of those in Lucca, and I would expect debates over any such proposal to be very heated. Which part of town is to be limited to Mexican restaurants? Which part of town is to be limited to O'odham (Papago) restaurants? Which regional Mexico cuisines are to be considered for this kind of protection? Or maybe there's will be just one overarching "heritage zone"? Which cultural traditions can be represented in this zone? Who gets to decide?

        I'm no fan of the big box and strip mall patterns of development, but to a large extent that is a separate issue. Indeed, some of my favorite restaurants are in less-than-picturesque settings, but in the end, I'd rather my local restaurateurs put capital into producing top notch chow than into building or rehabbing monuments to Phoenix's glorious(?) history.

      2. i'm against it.

        i have no love for mcdonalds, but mcdonalds is not the point.
        cultures evolve. i'm for that.

        1. From my understanding, its only in the "historical" section. I completely concur with hohokam - "resorting to a bit of hyperbole." Unless a McDonald's is historical, it doesn't make sense. It's different, but know I don't want a McDonald's setting up shop in St. Augustine next to the Oldest Schoolhouse. How different is it that than setting up state-owned lands or parks?

          1. How is it "racist"? Ethnocentric, maybe. But the discriminatory provisions have nothing to do with race, only ethnicity. "Racism" is not synonymous with "discrimination"!