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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Italians feast on traditional 'granny' food

Shouldn't we all do the same?
Economic crisis may well be an opportunity to eat healthier and  get fitter!

Assortment of food, including bread, olive oil, cheese, meat and grapes
It's arrivederci to fast food, as Italians return to traditional recipes and homemade food in an effort to save money in hard times.
As the scorching heat of the day subsides, a vast dusty market place outside the southern Italian town of Giovinazzo becomes a bustle of frenetic activity.
An army of 200 red-shirted volunteers starts piling huge armfuls of bread rolls and baguettes onto trestle tables - 11,000 bread rolls to be precise. Jars and trays of sandwich fillings are lined up on each table with military precision, and the teams of sandwich-makers discuss tactics - who passes, who cuts, who fills, who serves.
This is Giovinazzo's annual "festival of grandmother's sandwiches". The idea was first cooked up 17 years ago by a group of teenagers who worried that the simple honest lunches made by their dear "nonnas" were being eclipsed by fast food and supermarket snacks.
Back then, they couldn't have predicted that in 2012 the economic crisis would bring an unprecedented surge of interest from cash-strapped Italians.
Images from the "festival of grandmother's sandwiches" in south Italy
We're living a difficult time, not many people can stretch to a meal out in a restaurant right now, but they can afford to come here, spend a couple of euros on a sandwich and feel equal to other people", says organiser Gianfranco Stufano, who is now in his 30s.
"It's a chance to reconnect with the philosophy of how people used to make the most of local produce, waste nothing and still eat well."
It's poignant that many of the traditional recipes for these panini were perfected during the decades of poverty that characterised much of southern Italy's history. Gianfranco still remembers his own grandparents meticulously drying tomatoes, artichokes and peppers in the sun and then preserving them in oil to last throughout winter as sandwich fillings. Leftovers were precious and protected.
At the festival, the most popular sandwich filling is parmigiana, layers of aubergine and mozzarella in a basil-fragranced tomato sauce. More familiar to many as a main meal, but the message here is that a little kept aside can fill a bread roll the next day and save buying lunch. This is an approach many families are now embracing as the recession bites.
"I'm definitely having to cook more at home to save us cash. I'm even making my own bread now, although I don't have much time with kids and work," says Angela, a mum of two.
She represents the new fast-growing trend of Italians taking up home bread-baking to save money.
"We have less and less money each week to spend in supermarkets," she says, "so often we have to compare prices looking for the best bargains."
From BBC News- Health

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