“Pizza, spaghetti, and mafia”. A cliché, a sleazy stereotype that damages Italy’s image abroad. But also a brand that produces huge amounts of money. It is the fault of those who only see the worst side of Bel Paese, disregarding its immense contribution to world culture. But also those who keep selling jewelry and souvenirs inspired by the iconography of organized crime have their share of responsibility. Shotguns, caps, cups with the effigy of Don Vito Corleone, and so on and so forth. It is enough to go on a trip to Sicily to see it. Outside the borders fo Italy, the equation “Italian = mafia” is still popular, as ‘Coldiretti’ pointed out during the national mobilization “SOS Mediterranean diet” in Catania, which involved thousands of farmers. The event showed the most outrageous examples of food products sold in Italy, Europe, and in the world, whose names recall events, characters, and shapes of crime. A true insult to the Made In Italy brand and a slap in the face of those who have sacrificed everything they had, even their own lives, to fight crime.
From the Italian-style coffee called “Mafiozzo” (Bulgaria) to the snacks known as “Chilli Mafia” (UK), from the wine brand “The Godfather” (Napa Valley) to the bloody-red spicy sauce “Wicked Cosa Nostra” (Missouri) and spices called “Palermo Mafia shooting” (Germany). Moreover, in Brussels, the political capital of the united Europe, they serve French fries with “SauceMaffia” and dress pasta with “SauceMaffioso”. Restaurants and pizzerias called “Cosa Nostra” and “Mafia” swarm around the world and on the web you can buy a recipe book titled “The Mafia cookbook” or candies on www.candymafia.com or have a piece of advice from mamamafiosa (www.mamamafiosa.com) with themed background music.
The “Chili Mafia” package contains chili flavored nuts and has a label that invites to handle this extremely spicy product “with caution”. Whereas sauces fries accompanied with “Sauce Maffia” produced by Good’n’Food from Malines. The sauce is made of rapeseed oil, red yolk, vinegar, mustard, onion powder, sugar, and spices. “Sauce maffioso”, in its turn, is produced in Diest, Flanders, and is marketed under the brand Smiling Cook. It is made of spinach, onion, garlic, Emmenthal cheese, red pepper, and herbs. Finally, you can by spices called “Palermo Mafia shooting” in Germany or the hot sauce “Wicked Cosa Nostra” in Missouri.
The insult to Italy – still according to ‘Coldiretti’ – is not confined to food alone. Psc Start S.A. Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria) sells coffee beans called “Mafiozzo”. The only thing written on Italian on its plastic packing is ‘‘Stile Italiano’’ ‘Italian Style’. Unfortunately, the packing and the images printed on it make explicit reference to organized crime. Besides, “in the Sicilian town whose name has been strongly associated with Mafia, someone has decided to take advantage of the fame of ‘The Godfather’ to sell wine.” The brand name “Mafia” is also widely used by restaurants around the world to do business. Such is the case of the restaurant chain “La Mafia”, which is well-known in Spain. In these restaurants customers eat surrounded by murals that represent the most bloodthirsty gangsters ever (from Vito Cascio Ferro to Lucky Luciano and Al Capone). Finally, basically everywhere, from Mexico to Sharm El Sheik and from Minnesota to Macedonia, one can find restaurants and pizzerias called “Cosa Nostra”, while in Phuket (Thailand), it is the name of a take away service.
According to Roberto Moncalvo, head of ‘Coldiretti’, counterfeit and falsified Italian food costs the country 60 billion euros and three hundred thousand jobs. “It damages both the country’s economy and image, especially when it comes to emerging markets where – the association stresses – false products are often more frequent than the authentic, and it has a negative effect on the consumers’ expectations. Fake “Marsala” from California or Germany, and Sicilian tomato sauce produced in Switzerland or the unlikely caponata made in the United States. Also “chapagetti” pasta made in Korea, “Italian pasta” from Egypt, or widespread “bucatini” from Argentina are all examples of Italian sounding. Even lemon, Trinacria’s boast, is boldly falsified in a Sicilian “lime juice” sold in Switzerland. But there are also – ‘Coldiretti’ concludes – “Crotone pecorino” from Canada, “Sicilian mortadela” made in Spain and “Calabrese salami” made in the US.