It comes down to a game of semantics and that makes me very sad. Because buying food to feed yourself and your family shouldn’t require a course in label deciphering 101. It should be simple and straight forward, What am I buying, Where was it made, What’s in it, Where were the primary ingredients grown. These are some of the most important questions consumers want to know and sometimes some of the hardest to figure out.
Fresh summer seafood antipasto.
Buying preserves is a great way to get variety and lets not forget one of the best ways to take advantage of mother nature’s bounty. The problem then becomes quality and tractability. Do these tomatoes really come from this particular region known for their sweetness or are they from some other lesser known region where the quality is suspect but the price is much, much lower. This is where the label game comes into play, that is to say you think you’re buying top quality, at a good price but the reality is you are buying for lack a better word, a knock-off, a fake, a phony,. In the end, you the consumer are the only one who can judge whether the product’s authenticity in question makes a difference or not.
I know that when I’m served a dish like the one above where the individual ingredients are barely transformed from their raw state, lightly grilled zucchini, fresh anchovy, fresh oysters, sun dried tomatoes etc. the terroir or area where it was produced makes all the difference in the world. My take on all of this is simple if I’m going to spend my hard earned money on grilled artichoke with the stem on then I want those artichokes to be from the Apulia region of Italy or Lazio but not from some other dubious source that were brought in to Italy, then jarred, and shipped out to my local retailer, I know this because why? There are two very good reasons that I use to guide me. One the price, the old adage applies perfectly to food; If the price is to good to be true then it probably is. Compare the prices of similar items and if there is one that is way too low chances are that one is the phony. The second one is a bit more tricky and requires a bit detective work. When you read the label does it say Packaged in Italy, Made in Italy, Product of EU, may contain items from other EU nations etc., are there any DOP, IGP, IGT, symbols on the package?
I can go on and on, but I won’t because it would take way too long for you to read and wayyyy to long for me to write. Suffice it to say there are great preserved foods out there and wonderful preserved vegetables from Italy that take advantage of their excellent terroir.