Above: The new “Gran Chianina” burger at McDonald’s Italy (image via McDonalds.it).
“When will we stop selling off our enogastronomic heritage?” asks my friend and blogging colleague Andrea Gori in a post for the popular Italian wine blog Intravino today.
Andrea, a native Florentine and one of Italy’s leading sommeliers and wine bloggers, is referring to McItaly’s launch of the “Gran Chianina,” a hamburger purportedly made with Chianina beef, the famous Tuscan breed that gave the world the bistecca fiorentina.
Italians are obsessed with hamburgers this year (see this post, one of many devoted to their hamburger mania). I’ve had some great hamburgers with my bromance Giovanni Arcari in Brescia. And my friend Wayne Young, Joe Bastianich’s special ops man, tells me that young Italians love the hamburger at Joe’s new restaurant in Cividale del Friuli.
But McChianina? It touches a raw nerve on both sides of the Atlantic.
For those of you unfamiliar with Chianina cattle, here’s the Wiki entry.
Evidently, McItaly (yes, that’s what it’s called!) is also launching a line of Piedmontese beef burgers.
While the first Italian McDonald’s opened its doors in German-speaking Bolzano in 1985 (according to the Wiki), it was the launch of the McDonald’s at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome that inspired the creation of what would become the Slow Food movement.
This legacy has made McDonald’s the symbol of enogastronomic colonization in Italy, a bitter pill to swallow for a country united only by culinary pride and football.
Here’s a video capture of the Gran Chianina spot from Andrea’s YouTube. It’s enough to make you want to heave…
I can only imagine how offensive this is to Andrea. Not only is he one of Italy’s leading wine personalities, he’s also the wine director for his family’s legacy restaurant, Trattoria da Burde, in Florence. It was the model for the Gambero Rosso (Red Lobster) restaurant in Collodi’s Pinocchio.