The welcome speech addressed to the President of the Republic
Mr. President of the Republic, I am honored to present to you, on behalf of the Italian Academy of Cuisine, and as a representative of the President’s Council of the Academy, The Menus of the Quirinale – 150 years of Menus for 14 Heads of State, the coronation of almost sixty years in the service of our nation’s culture that you have honored in your message.
The honor that you bestow upon us transcends the formal occasion, important as that may be, particularly as the celebrations for 150 years of Italian unity unfold, in recognition of the work of our Academy. The Academy - with its 8,000 members, almost 1,500 in foreign countries, belonging to 213 Delegations in Italy and 77 Delegations abroad – is actively engaged in defending the noble gastronomic traditions of Italy through our magazine Civiltà della Tavola, meetings, symposia, conferences, round tables, events, exhibitions and publications. Our cultural work has been recognized by the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities, which has placed our Academy on the roster of Italian Cultural Institutions. This work is showcased in a series of books that I am honored to present to you, a list to which I would add The Colors of Taste – the Civilization of the Table in Neapolitan paintings, celebrating the great culture, in paintings and gastronomy, of “your” Naples.
Cuisine, just like language, is an unbreakable and profound expression of the identity of a people and a nation, most of all in Italy where the wealth of traditions represents an incomparable treasure brought to the fore by the unitary process. This has been the subject of study and propagation by the Academy, as demonstrated by our last publication 1861-2011 –Cuisine in the Formation of a National Identity. Alongside other testimonials of the unitary construction that perpetuates the memory of artistic, literary, musical, scientific history, and cuisine itself, in its manifestations as a repository of traditions and an artistic component of gastronomy, and on account of its unconscious meanings, represents a strong element of identification and an unquestionable factor of national cohesion.
Almost sixty years of work, unselfish passion and cultural commitment have pushed the Academy toward the present national and international dimensions on behalf of Italian culture and the civilization of the table, establishing relations with the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forest Policies, and the Ministry of Health.
Your welcome gratifies us because it rewards the commitment of our organization that distances itself from any commercial link and that relies on the passionate voluntary efforts of our Academicians in Italy and around the world to reach its statutory purposes: the tutelage of the traditions of the cuisine of our country and of the civilization of the table, as a national value, that our country cannot afford to see diminished without a grave loss of identity. At a time of rapid changes and transformations, interest in traditional and identifying cuisine, to be improved and made worthy of the present, goes hand in hand with its role of defending the “Italian way” in Italy and most of all overseas, with a important social and economic fallout. Good Italian cuisine is the best vehicle to spread the knowledge and appreciation in other countries of the great wealth and variety of Italian products and the best defense in the face of falsifications of Italian agricultural-food production, the second productive sector of our country. Mr. President, we may never be in such close concordance with you in your mission to enhance the presence of Italy in the world as we are today. The pin that we Academicians wear has the three colors of our flag, the tricolor that you, Mr. President, point out as the road to follow to safeguard the great spiritual values that underlie the flag and that we are celebrating on this 150th anniversary of Italian unification.
Mr. President, our organization will continue to act daily, with the help of young Academicians but mainly in the spirit, as you teach us, that allows us to guarantee a future for the unique and unmatched patrimony of our cuisine that boasts its roots at the beginning of the second millennium of our era.
Mr. President, we give you a heartfelt and, if you allow me, an affectionate thank you, my personal thanks and those of all of us, for your courtesy and your willingness to host us at the Quirinale. I also wish to add my best wishes for your gracious wife, Donna Clio. I am honored to accompany these wishes with the presentation of our symbol, the temple of wisdom. This day will long live in the memory and in the hearts of all of us.