Get Pie-eyed the Paris Hilton Way!

Italians are not pleased that an Austrian company is using Paris Hilton to advertise Prosecco, the Italian white sparkling wine which Germans on limited budgets drink as a substitute for Champagne, which can only legally be called "Champagne" if it comes from the Champagne region of France (no slur implied, good prosecco is quite tasty):

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton dressed provocatively in a skimpy leopard print outfit and showing off her bare legs is not an image Italian winemakers feel is fitting for their Prosecco white sparkling wine.

Yet Hilton, in various high-heeled stages of undress, graces the ads of Rich Prosecco, an Austrian company selling the bubbly in 27 countries. What’s worse, in the eyes of Prosecco producers, Rich Prosecco also comes in cans and in two fruit varieties.

"Hilton hotels are a sign of quality; Paris Hilton is not," said Fulvio Brunetta, president of the wine growers association of Treviso, the northern Italian city in the Veneto region where Prosecco is made.

Prosecco in cans?!  Heaven forfend!  To get more control over how Prosecco’s marketed and made, Italian prosecco makers are turning to the tried-and-true European solution: registering "Prosecco" as an appellation controlee.  Doesn’t seem to have helped the Greeks much, who trademarked ‘feta cheese’ in 2005 but are still fighting (what they consider to be) knockoffs.  By the way, getting camember or feta trademarked is a very, very big deal in Europe — you make light of this at your peril.  When I was in Greece this summer, practically every container of Greek feta cheese was labeled "100% authentic official Greek feta cheese" or something like that.  And it was delicious, as was everything else I ate in Greece.

9 thoughts on “Get Pie-eyed the Paris Hilton Way!

  1. Martin: While Italians like to invent new food (tiramisu wasn’t around some 20 years ago, nor was latte macchiato), they also stick very much to tradition with respect to what they eat. I really admire how much Italians know about how dishes are traditionally prepared, something that’s completely lost in Germany. I very fondly remember an engineer from Bologna who once gave me a lecture that a dish like “Spaghetti Bolognese” did not exist and ranted about those know-nothing foreigners that continue to order it in Italian restaurants abroad, followed by a detailed explanation how the traditional “ragù bolognese” was prapared and with what kind of pasta it is traditionally served. See also here:
    http://www.cibo360.it/cucina/mondo/rag%F9_bolognese.htm 🙂

  2. Alex, I know exactly what you are writing about and you are of course right: Spaghetti Bolognese don’t even play in the same league as Penne al ragù bolognese. My ignorant statement “I don’t care, they look the same” was once answered by my girlfriend going into a five-minute rant about the difference between penne and penne rigate and what effect the “righe” would have on the taste of the ragù on the pasta.

    When it comes to the original dishes compared to the German “versions” one just has to go and try Pizza in Naples, made in one of their high-temperature stone-ovens in just 2-3 minutes..

  3. My father happened to be from Naples, but that was not what I meant. Food culture is still a part of daily life in Italy. While the dishes are mostly quite simple, people are very careful in preparing them according to tradition and with ingredients of good to excellent quality. Everybody knows the traditional recipes and how the food ought to be prepared, and takes pride in that.

    This kind of culture is completely lost in Germany, as it seems to me. How many Germans do you know that have learned how to cook the traditional dishes of their region from their mothers, including the dos and don’ts and caveats? I hardly know any.

  4. @Martin Sommerfeld:

    When it comes to the original dishes compared to the German “versions” one just has to go and try Pizza in Naples, made in one of their high-temperature stone-ovens in just 2-3 minutes..

    Of course lots of German pizza bakers use hot wood-burning ovens. There is no reason why their pizza shouldn’t be just as good as that made in Naples. It may be that Naples is the home of pizza, but considering that, in addition to being the most corrupt and murderous place on the whole continent of Europe, Naples is a festering hellhole of toxic waste, going there for the food of all things seems like asking for an early death.

  5. Of course I simplified, the oven is an important part, but not the only one. The German pizza bakers (of whatever nation, also the ones from Italy) nearly always change the way they make the pizza to fit the German taste, just like they changed the ragù bolognese to spaghetti bolognese (see below). The appreciation of food and it’s preparation is, as Alex pointed out, a “culture [that] is completely lost in Germany”. So there really is a difference, believe me.
    Anyway, none of this is meaning that you can’t find good pizza or spaghetti bolognese in Germany, don’t confuse me with another martin here. ;-))

    As to the waste problem in Campania.. maybe just now ain’t the best of times for food-expeditions into the heart of darkness, you could be right. But then again, thinking of “most corrupt and murderous place on the whole continent of Europe” and “asking for an early death” – there is always more than one truth (G). 🙂

  6. Martin:
    Nice article. And it’s true that for tourists it’s quite safe; safer than Milano, e.g.

    Naples could easily be the most beautiful city in the world (the gulf! the antiques! the climate! il Vesuvio!) were it a bit better kept. What really makes me mad is that the inhabitants leave their garbage in every slight depression in the landscape to rot :-(.

  7. @Martin Sommerfeld:

    Of course I simplified, the oven is an important part, but not the only one. The German pizza bakers (of whatever nation, also the ones from Italy) nearly always change the way they make the pizza to fit the German taste, just like they changed the ragù bolognese to spaghetti bolognese (see below).

    Really? What does that mean – the German taste? In any event, you don’t have to be in Naples to make pizza like it’s made in Naples. Isn’t that what these protected names are usually about, protecting things that don’t actually have anything to do with the taste? Many of those regional cheeses, for example, have to be made from milk from the same region. As if there was something in the water or the air.

    But then again, thinking of “most corrupt and murderous place on the whole continent of Europe” and “asking for an early death” – there is always more than one truth (G). 🙂

    It’s nice to know that the people are charming, just like in every other place a newspaper travel section has ever reported on 😉 But the article doesn’t really challenge the claim that Naples has not yet completely succeeded in the struggle to bring public safety and hygiene to the most desirable standards, diplomatically speaking …

  8. “How many Germans do you know that have learned how to cook the traditional dishes of their region from their mothers, including the dos and don’ts and caveats?”

    Are there any? I would certainly be a regular at such a restaurant.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.