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'Pesto Day' set to be celebrated

Genoa wants EU laurel for famed speciality

14 January, 18:23
'Pesto Day' set to be celebrated (ANSA) - Genoa, January 14 - Over 2,000 participating restaurants in roughly 40 countries will honor real Genovese pesto on January 17, marking the fourth annual International Day of Italian Cuisine (IDIC). Genovese pesto was chosen as the official dish of IDIC 2011, a worldwide celebration of authentic Italian food that will even see pesto-based Ligurian specialties served on 14 ships of the Italian cruise company Costa Crociere.

"Pesto Day will be an important showcase for our manufacturers to publicize, promote, and distinguish real Genovese pesto from false imitations," agricultural councillor Giovanni Barbagallo told reporters in Genoa. "Defending the traditional pesto recipe from imitations is a priority for Liguria." To that end, the oily green sauce beloved by Italian food fans the world over may also soon have its own certification. The Liguria region is seeking a European Union "STG" (Guaranteed Traditional Speciality) mark for pesto meeting strict criteria for genuine, Ligurian ingredients.

"With the STG designation we want to protect the seven ingredients of true pesto: PDO Genovese basil, garlic, olive oil Riviera Ligure PDO, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and grana padano cheese," added Barbagallo.

PDO stands for Protected Designation of Origin, a European certification the Liguria region has already secured for locally produced basil and extra-virgin olive oil.

"We want to unite the name of Liguria with the territory's quality products, like pesto, as a fundamental strategy for tourism development through (Ligurian) culinary specialties," declared Genoa's tourism councillor Angelo Berlangieri.

The word "pesto" comes from "pestare", or to crush with a pestle and mortar, a reference to the original method for creating the Genovese sauce. Hence pesto is also known as "battuto genovese" or Genovese mince or mash. The pasta condiment was still rare in the days of legendary Genovese explorer Christopher Colombus, but had become well established by the 19th century.

IDIC's Pesto Day is officially sponsored by the Liguria Region, Grana Padano cheese, Genova Pasta and a consortium of olive oil makers, among others.