The better part of yesterday’s morning was spent video chatting with my friend Stefano Albano (above) in Rome. He is the owner of VERO Traditional Italian Food. The topic of our conversation was Italy’s “PAT” designation, his company’s specialty (pun intended).
PAT, you ask? We’ll get to that in a second. But first let’s dot some i’s and cross some t’s.
Surely, you already know your DOCs from your IGTs. But here’s a crib sheet and some background for the unitiated (see abridged version below).
DOC is an acronym for denominazione d’origine controllata or controlled origin designation.
IGT stands for indicazione geografica tipica or, when translated slavishly, typical geographic indication (arguably rendered more precisely as authentic geographic designation).
Both of these designations were used in the Italian wine appellation system prior to the European Union overhaul of agricultural product designations in 2010.
Today, DOC is still used internally in the Italian wine appellation. But it is now part of a pan-European designation known in Italy as DOP or denominazione d’origine protetta. It applies to foods and wines and is rendered into English as PDO or protected designation of origin.
IGT, which like its counterpart DOC is still used within Italy’s borders for wine, has now been changed in EU parlance to IGP or indicazione geografica protetta. It is represented in English as PGI protected geographical indication. IGT and PGI are used today for wines and foods, within and without Italy respectively.
The Italians still also internally use DOCG which stands for denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita or designation of controlled and guaranteed origin. This designation isn’t recognized within the broader EU system. (The main difference between the Italian DOC and DOCG is that the DOCG supposedly — and please underline the word supposedly — requires a more stringent evaluation of the wine’s “typicity” or typicality. But that’s another story for another time.)
But what about PAT?
PAT stands for prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale or traditional [food-]agricultural product. It was created by the Italian agricultural ministry in 2000 as a means to retain the designation status of traditional food products in Italy as the EU overhaul began to take shape. At the time, it was feared that many Italian food products would lose their designation status because of more narrow criteria imposed by Brussels.
According to ministerial decree, PAT foods must be “obtained with well-established production, storage, and aging methods that are widely adopted throughout the area in question. They must align with traditional practices and be in use for a period no shorter than 25 years.”
But the Italian government left it up to the regions, with only minimal bureaucratic oversight, to determine which foods would qualify. Today there are thousands of them. Campania has the most of any region, clocking in at more than 500.
They can include meats and cheeses, animal products like honey and milk, candies and pastries, and even recipes in certain cases.
You can browse lists of the products on the Italian Wiki here. Veneto, for example, has four distinct PATs for radicchio. Piedmont has 81 PATs for meat and offal alone.
PAT is akin to but should not be confused with another little-known EU designation, TSG or traditional specialties guaranteed. It requires 30 (as opposed to the Italians’ 25) years of “tradition” and unlike its Italian counterparts doesn’t have to be associated with a delimited region.
Pizza is arguably Italy’s most well known recipe included in the list of TSG or specialità tradizionali garantite (STG). It’s made using a PDO product from Campania but it is produced all over Italy.
Stefano is a lovely man and the apotheosis of the Italian food culture entrepreneur. His company sells and exports PAT products exclusively. And he’s one of the presenters at next week’s Taste of Italy Virtual Trade Fair here in Houston, organized the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce South-Central (where I am a paid consultant). To see the complete list of producers who will be presenting their wines and foods, click here. Although the deadline for next week has passed, Texan food and wine professionals can sigh up for virtual meetings and tastings throughout the month of March. The wines and food products are delivered to your doorstep and then the chamber will coordinate the virtual meeting.
Check out Stefano’s site for a wonderful list of PATs.
ABRIDGED CRIB SHEET
DOC = denominazione d’origine controllata or controlled origin designation (Italian).
DOCG = denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita or designation of controlled and guaranteed origin (Italian).
IGT = indicazione geografica tipica or typical geographic indication (Italian).
DOP = denominazione d’origine protetta. Applies to foods and wines. Rendered into English as PDO or protected designation of origin (EU).
IGP or indicazione geografica protetta. Applies to food and wines. Rendered into English as PGI protected geographical indication (EU).
PAT = prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale or traditional [food-]agricultural product (Italy).
STG = specialità tradizionali garantite (Italy).
TSG = traditional specialities guaranteed (EU).