Happy Meals vs. Box Children

It’s a funny title, isn’t it? Well, sorry, but the title is quite evocative of something. A battle supreme: US attitudes toward food vs. Italy’s. Perhaps it wreaks of the battle between creative artisan cuisine vs. industrial crap food. (I think of these things a lot as I’m finishing up my “Tuscany for Foodies” mobile app. It drives me—ok, my stomach—nuts.)

If you are unfamiliar with the Italian language or its borrowed peculiarities, let me just say that you are likely to be confused by the idea of “Box Children.” No, I am not referring to children being put in a box. (I will not argue that the one behind you in your dinky plane seats kicking the back of yours for hours on end shouldn’t be put in a box full of pit bulls, but that is not the point here.)

We are talking about a gourmet box of food aimed at kids, Italian style.

Like a Happy Meal (sic), it is entirely possible to put a box of food together that kids would enjoy. Anyone can do it. Mothers do it when they send kids to school, sometimes. Otherwise they, the kids I mean, get industrial crap food. (Or a monomolecular coating of grape jelly on Wonder bread every day, cucina povera degli Stati Uniti. Thanks mom.)

In any case, let’s say the vaunted chef of a Michelin starred restaurant put together some regional foods that children would enjoy and put it in a box. Nothing with strong flavors that the elevated number of taste buds in a child’s mouth would find offensive. That would be a Box Children. In Italian. Ha! You can read it like you were fluent, eh! Yes, a Box (of food) for Children.

Chef Gianni D’Amato of the restaurant Il Rigoletto di Reggiolo had done just that. He’s taken regional foods and packaged them for kids. He’s put in all the Reggio Emilia faves, tweaked when necessary to make them appeal to children. He did not tweak as we do, to include industrial waste like high fructose corn syrup, he just tweaked textures and flavors, transforming Mortadella into Mortadella Butter for example. Otherwise everything he put in his kid’s meal will seem normal and natural to anyone who’s taken a meal in Italy. He’s even included prosciutto aged optimally (in his opinion) 27 months. No cheap crap for a Michelin chef.

Here’s the article

Chef D’Amato is making gourmets of the future it says. Good for him. I don’t want to fly to Italy in front of a High Fructose Corn Syrup enhanced place-kicker only to find McDonalds everywhere I look.

That would just be wrong.

(You can see the box in a video)


Happy Meals vs. Box Children originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Jan 11, 2011 © .

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