Italian food was once a culinary novelty in Canada. Brought over by immigrants after the Second World War, it spoke of home and family to the thousands of settlers looking to build a new life across the Atlantic. Families often grew their own produce in their backyards, and kitchens brimmed with jars of preserved vegetables, tomato sauce, hams and salami – memories of rural traditions from back home. Some of those traditions are still alive, while others are being left behind – and for good reason!
Bellavita Expo protects the finest authentic Italian food from wannabes and sound-alikes. To understand how these imitation products flourished, it’s important to know a little history.
Italian food in Canada
In “Little Italy’s” all over Canada, immigrants started to open restaurants and delis catering mostly to other homesick settlers. With time, however, Italian food grew in popularity and became a staple in the Canadian culinary scene. As with Italian food in the US, Italian-Canadians created their own versions of Italian cuisine, originating mostly from the rural south. Forget the simple, veg-rich and healthy food that is the Mediterranean diet. Adapting old recipes to the new continent, Italian cuisine became the carb-loaded, pasta/pizza-centric cuisine we’re so used to seeing today.
New Italian flavours
The ‘90s saw a variety of new products entering North America and, thanks to the Internet, the gap between Canada and Italy grew smaller. With more products and more information available, people discovered a new kind of Italian cuisine. Second-generation chefs started to explore new flavours and preparations, incorporating the old with the new and often going back to ‘cucina povera’ (‘poor cuisine’), the peasants’ way of cooking, made of cheap cuts, grains and vegetables. On the other hand, a new selection of regional specialties started to filter through, breathing new life into traditional dishes and expanding the range of flavours available.
Ciao, ciao Italian sounding!
Cheese, wine, balsamic vinegar and olive oil are just a few of the many Italian products in high demand in Canada today. In 2017, Italy exported $1.2 billion (CDN) worth of food and beverages, and the numbers are increasing. Thanks to the introduction of CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), Italian producers can count on the protection of products like Prosciutto di Parma and Aceto Balsamico di Modena. This is a huge step forward that will help combat ‘Italian sounding’ brands, and safeguard the unique nature of these products.
One thing is certain: Italian cuisine in Canada is going through a renaissance, and consumers are looking for more transparency, authenticity and nutritional value in what they eat. Bellavita Expo, the leading Italian food and beverage trade shows, offers a platform to F&B buyers, importers, retailers and chefs to discover the excellence of Italy. Sourcing the very best from producers of Italian specialties, Bellavita Expo is the key event for F&B professionals seeking high-quality products – from wine to pasta, cheese, deli meats and much more – always with an eye on the latest innovations and industry requirements (including gluten-free, organic, sugar- and dairy-free, vegan, and more).
“We are honoured and excited to be back in Toronto this February,” says Aldo Mazzocco, Bellavita’s CEO. “This is a key event for us where we will be presenting a variety of Italian products, including innovative ingredients and niche brands. The Canadian market is constantly growing and, thanks to the latest directives, the real Made in Italy is now protected from imitations. This is an important step toward a more transparent attitude towards Italian F&B.”