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Italian food week brings Chinese foodies a real Mediterranean taste

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-12-04 16:49
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To dozens of kindergartners in southwestern China's Chongqing Municipality, it was as if Italian confectioner Franco Bergamino was performing a "magic show."

He was greeted by waves of oohs and ahhs as the kids watched him miraculously transform dough, egg, sugar and fruit into edible artwork such as Sicilian pastry rolls, fruit egg tarts, tiramisu and almond biscuits.

The preschoolers, aged between three and six, further broke into cheers when they were invited to taste the Italian handmade ice creams and had Spaghetti for lunch.

The scene was part of the activities of the 2021 World Week of Italian Cuisine's Chongqing station.

Bergamino is a familiar face to many local children. During last year's event, he taught a group of kids to make pizza.

The sixth edition of the World Week of Italian Cuisine was held in late November in several cities across China. Themed "Tradition and perspectives of Italian cuisine: awareness and enhancement of food sustainability," the event aimed to fully present the Italian culinary tradition and bring foodies a real Italian taste.

"This year's event highlighted tradition and sustainability. Both are also the core of the Italian diet, which uses simple ingredients to make nutritious delicacies," said Guido Bilancini, Consul General of Italy in Chongqing.

More than 17 restaurants, bars, hotels and supermarkets in southwestern Chinese cities including Chongqing, Chengdu and Guiyang participated in this year's event.

Salvatore Portoghese owns a Western-style restaurant in Chongqing. "What I've been trying to do is to bring diners in Chongqing a real taste of my hometown," said Portoghese.

He is devoted to combining locally cultivated ingredients with traditional Italian cuisine. At this year's food week, he used jam made of locally-grown pumpkins to replace the traditional ketchup to make a Burrata Cheese pizza, a signature Italian food.

The Mediterranean-style diet, which emphasizes plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and healthy fats, is catching on among Chinese food lovers.

Even in the southwestern region where local cuisine is noted for distinctive spicy and pungent flavors and abundant using of oil and seasonings, Mediterranean-style diet is favored by many youngsters who pursue a healthier lifestyle.

"Delicacy is about connection and sharing. We believe the holding of such an event can help China and Italy explore more cooperation opportunities in areas where common interests lie," said Bilancini.

Food is a bright symbol of Italian culture, according to Italy's Ambassador to China Luca Ferrari, who added that the quality Italian food and wine at the event can bring Italy closer to the Chinese people.

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