We Italians are all a bit spoilt. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, very important not only from a geopolitical point of view, but also cultural, close to that of ‘mare nostrum’ that saw the beginning of our civilization. Yet, while from outside Italy everyone appreciates us, we often like to belittle ourselves.
Eataly is an all-Italian and long-lasting challenge, which this year celebrates its eleventh birthday. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk about it and get to know it better with the careful and enthusiastic look at its founder, Oscar Farinetti, who in 2002 started this beautiful adventure together with many other all Italian companies, who’s brand and reality were then still little known, but that had in common a great ambition and other values: quality, sustainability and desire for sharing.
Could you satisfy a curiosity we have. In the years of fast food, you decided to buck the trend and invested heavily in slow food bringing back culture and solid roots of Italian reality to the concept of food. What was the initial gamble and what were the ingredients that led to its success?
“The right ingredients are those that determine the success of ideas. I had three things clear: enjoyment, health and narration. The first two, when it comes to food and nourishment, often play in two different teams: if something is good, it’s usually bad for us. A big mistake! Enjoyment, as Eataly has always told us, is a state of body and mind that comes from knowledge: the more you enjoy, the more you know the object, in this case food, which brings you pleasure. That’s why if I eat pasta and I know its characteristics – made with Gragnano durum wheat, slowly dried, bronze-drawn, with a proper level of ground remains, gluten and plant proteins – I enjoy it much more. Healthiness does not come only from a certification, for example biological, biodynamic or other, which we are full of today. It comes first of all from the respect that has accompanied the production conditions of that certain food: respect for those who produced it, respect for the environment from which that food has come, respect for traditions. And then there’s the story, which is certainly the key element to convey these ideas, to tell them and spread awareness among the customers of our markets and restaurants. “
The geopolitical changes, the Asian markets, China and the Middle East and now Russia: are these markets that you consider ripe to appreciate a product like yours?
“Today the whole world is ripe for high-quality and well-told Italian food. There are 800 million people in the world who are enamored with excellent nutrition. All these people are increasingly attentive to Italian cuisine. Then, unfortunately, there are another 800 million people who have little or no food, and more than a billion obese who eat badly. Also for these last two categories we need to get busy. And Eataly, in its small way, is trying to do something. “
2018 “will be the international year of Italian food around the world”. The announcement comes from the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Dario Franceschini at the presentation of the protocol agreement signed together with the president of Coldiretti Roberto Moncalvo on the occasion of the “Biodiversity and agriculture conference: multifunctionality: from the environment to society”. An action that, according to Moncalvo, will generate knowledge and education for good food, making foreign tourists the ambassadors of Made in Italy food around the world. But will it also help exports to reach the set target of 50 billion Euros in 2020 “? What are the entrepreneurial goals that Eataly has set itself?
“The picture is correct. To answer this situation, we have created FICO, Fabbrica Italiana Contadina, in Bologna. Italy is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world and this is a fortune that we must learn to portray. Through FICO, we try to express our heritage to the maximum, and we do it thanks to the FICO Foundation, which involves five universities: the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, the University of Trento, the Suor Orsola Benincasa University of Naples, the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo and the Future Food Institute. The Foundation will take care of food education and sustainability, and will think about the impact that a new way of producing and consuming food will have on our lives and on the entire planet. Today these are the entrepreneurial objectives that can generate new jobs and infect thousands of tourists who every year will visit the park in Bologna. “
We seem to read between the lines of this ‘narrative’, to put it in the manner of Oscar Farinetti, that the journey is still long, but also that dreams, when they arise from projects full of talent, devotion and passion, will eventually be realized . And we cannot but join the chorus of birthday wishes and follow with equal passion and attention the all very Italian initiatives and ideas, that will follow.