To be a good cook means to be able to identify and choose good quality ingredients. I spend a lot of time in my classes helping students identify good quality ingredients. When it comes to fresh protein and produce; seasonal, local and fresh are best.
But what about imported ingredients? In producing authentic Italian cuisine we rely on imported products as well. So many products say “Made in Italy” or “Produced in Italy”. How do you know if it is genuine or justifies the price?
Since 1992, the European Union has enforced the DOP & IGP designation. What is it? It is the strict European Union Geographical designation that performs quality checks at each stage of food production ensuring certain standards are met.
Italy has the most products registered in Europe. DOP, “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” or the Italian equivalent of “protected designation of origin” and IGP, “Indicazione Geografica Protetta” or “traditional specialties guaranteed” are 2 of the designations that can help consumers choose authentic, quality, Italian ingredients.
Italian products like Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamico di Modena, Proscuitto di Parma, and San Marzano Tomatoes. These are comparable to other European products such as Cognac, Champagne and Roquefort cheese. They have all followed ancient recipes and traditions to produce an authentic product worthy of the name and seal. They are regularly monitored to protect the reputation of the regional foods and avoid unfair competition. They guarantee a premium price for the producers and protect the consumer.
Recently while in Italy we visited a “Pane DOP di Altamura” bakery. This is the best bread in all of Italy. When asked how often they were inspected by the DOP authority… I was told weekly! This is serious business! (it was seriously delicious bread too!)
So look for the seal of approval and you will be guaranteed an authentic, Italian traditional flavor that has stood the test of time and the “European Food Police”!
Ciao for now, Natalina!
p.s…. Presales have now started for my first cookbook, Natalina’s kitchen: Bringing homemade back. Lots of tips on filling your pantry like an Italian Mamma!