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Author: Subject: Have Italians banned lunch?

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 11/24/2009 at 11:11 AM
updated 7:34 a.m. ET, Tues., Nov . 24, 2009
ROME - Food-loving Italy responded with indignation on Tuesday to a government official's comments that lunch breaks are bad for waistlines and the economy, and should be skipped.

While many European peers nibble a sandwich at their desk, most Italian workers still retire en masse to a "tavola calda" (buffet restaurant) for a slap-up meal, often an hour-long affair involving pasta or meat, a vegetable dish, fruit and coffee.

But cabinet minister Gianfranco Rotondi said this encourages shirking and obesity, and makes the working day unnecessarily long, meaning parents get home later to see their children.

His comments were front-page news, lampooned by cartoonists and rejected by trade unions rallying around the workers' right to a lunchbreak. Nutritionists warned that if Italians skipped their lunch, they could collapse in the afternoon.

"It is bad for output and also for the harmony of the day. I never liked this ritual which brings Italy to a standstill," the minister said late Monday.

In the face of the uproar his comments produced Michele Gentile of the biggest union, the CGIL, called it "an attack on workers' rights" Rotondi later clarified that he had "never proposed abolishing lunch breaks."

"I only said that I abolished mine 20 years ago. The ideal thing would be for workers to choose," he told reporters.

'Fat' politicians
Italian food producers' association Coldiretti cited a study showing that about 44 percent of Italian workers eat lunch in a restaurant or bar, and about 36 percent in a company canteen, while less than one in five take a packed lunch from home.

The minister, whose cabinet role is the "fulfillment of the government's program," did however propose the closure of the subsidized canteen in parliament, which he said "costs too much to run and makes members of parliament get fat."

Corriere della Sera newspaper recalled that in 1924 dictator Benito Mussolini caught a whiff of cooking in parliament and said disapprovingly: "We come here to make laws, not to eat!"

But nutritionist Pietro Migliaccio warned that Italians "already have a very light breakfast or miss it altogether. If we skipped lunch too we'd risk having a blood sugar crisis in the afternoon, which would make it quite difficult to work."


[Edited on 11/24/2009 by musicmann]

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 11/24/2009 at 11:48 AM
bummer

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/24/2009 at 12:01 PM
I hope not. I love the way everything just shuts down for awhile in the afternoon in Italy and people take time to enjoy themselves and each other. (Better a heavier noon meal and lighter evening meal anyway, healthwise).

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 11/24/2009 at 12:03 PM
I have family in Italy and have visited many times. I always thought the "lunch break" part of the day was an amazing part of their culture. Lunch has always been THE Italian meal of the day. For my family, at least, a time to come home, take a break, and eat a hot delicious meal with your loved ones.

Unfortunately, over the last 20-30 years, Italy has become more and more Americanized. Italians are working more hours to make more money to buy things that they can't afford. They see less of their kids. McDonalds and other fast food chains are spreading like the disease that they are. I would say fast food has more to do with Italians' growing waist-lines than the long lunch break.
Sad.

[Edited on 11/24/2009 by Mule75]

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/24/2009 at 12:18 PM
Don't let Italy become Americanized. I loved the noon day break when I spent a week there. Shops close at a reasonable hour, none of this 24 hour stuff. No McDonalds all over the place (I only saw one).
 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/24/2009 at 01:50 PM
quote:
I hope not. I love the way everything just shuts down for awhile in the afternoon in Italy and people take time to enjoy themselves and each other. (Better a heavier noon meal and lighter evening meal anyway, healthwise).


I loved the lunch in Spain. In 1998, when we were there, everything closed up at 1:00 pm and reopened at 3:00 pm. They had some thick hot cocoa for breakfast with churros, long fried sticks of dough. Very good! The mid-day meal was the main meal. Early evening they had tapas with wine. The evening meal was very late around 10:00 pm. Everybody walked and the streets were alive at night. They also had "dessert" cafes open at night for dessert and coffee. Well, no wonder I loved Spain!!!

 

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