BEIRUT: Italian cuisine has always been appealing to Lebanese people, who derive from its Mediterranean aroma a pleasure that reminds them of home.
On Tuesday, the attendees to the Italian Trade Agency’s first edition of the Italian Products Showcase had the chance to experience and savor the lavish taste of the Italian cuisine.
The last floor of the lavish Phoenicia Hotel was transformed into an Italian cuisine tasting experience thanks to eight Lebanese importers of Italian products, who were invited by the Italian Trade Agency and the Italian embassy to participate in the first edition of the Italian Products Showcase, where they displayed mouthwatering samples of cold cuts, cheese, and pasta, among other delicacies.
“We wanted to organize this event in support of these importers who bring Italian products into the Lebanese market by offering visibility to their products,” Trade Commissioner of the Italian Trade Agency Francesca Zadro told Annahar.
The importers included prominent names that have been in the market for more than 20 years, such as G. Vincenti & Sons, the importers of Barilla Spaghetti, a longstanding stipend in the cupboard of Lebanese mothers, and other importers such as U-food, Econogros, and Interal, all of which have been supplying the Lebanese market with the best Italian products for more than two decades.
“We make sure to deliver high-end quality products for affordable prices,” Bahaa Bechara, marketing manager of U-Food, told Annahar.
One passionate entrepreneur who bakes his own bread using organic Italian flour is Ralph Bitar, owner of Bread Boutiq. Bread Butiq is home to healthy and delicious bread made exceptionally with sourdough.
“I’m a baker by passion, baking is not my main job, but I’ve loved it and over the years I’ve learned how to make bread, and I opened my shop four years ago,” Bitar told Annahar.
Bitar uses a wide range of flour that could be up to 15 times more expensive than local flour, which explains his relatively high prices of bread.
“All our bread is made with organic flour and sourdough and specifically with slow fermentation,” Bitar said.
“This is one of the initiatives that we do all year long to assist the Lebanese importers of Italian specialties,” Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Massimo Marotti told Annahar.
“They’re the ones who guarantee that we in Lebanon have the best of the Italian cuisine available for locals and tourists who get to taste Lebanese cuisine and the international one,” he told added.
Marotti also spoke of the long history of between Italian companies and Lebanese traders, which he said dates back to the Ottoman Empire, adding that a joint venture between Lebanese and Italian sectors is being worked on to distribute products that meet European standards in the local market and for export as well.
“We’re discussing it with the office of the prime minister to create the fund, and we will resume work on the project in Zahle,” Marotti said.
The promotion of the Italian food and beverage will continue after this showcase event with the organization of the 4th World Week of Italian Cuisine on November 11-17, promoted by the Italian Embassy and in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute.
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