Mediterranean diet conquers EU bureaucracy

( dpa ) - Rudderless and impoverished - their government collapsed while their economy is lagging - Italians have little to cheer about these days.

But there is one thing that will always bring a smile to their faces: Food.

Al-dente pasta, smoked ham or mozzarella are cherished treasures in the Bel Paese. And now, they are also conquering the hearts of Europe's bureaucrats.

Since January, a small catering firm from the north-eastern corner of Italy, Unijolly, has replaced a French giant as the main food supplier to the Council of the European Union, one of the main Brussels-based institutions.

On a typical day, Unijolly will serve about 3,000 hot meals to civil servants from Finland, Ireland, Portugal or Bulgaria.

It also feeds prime ministers and high-ranking foreign dignitaries during their official visits to Brussels.

Its top chef is Francesco Mammola, a handsome 32-year old from Rome who has made a name for himself by appearing on an Italian adaptation of the BBC television series Ready Steady Cook.

Mammola had already been working in restaurants as a teenager before becoming a teacher at Italy's prestigious Gambero Rosso cooking school and exporting his expertise to Russia and Asia.

"Catering for so many different palates is certainly a challenge. But television has taught me that if your dishes have vivid colours, a pleasant appearance and a good consistency, the job is already half done," Mammola told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

But feeding Eurocrats is about much more than appearances.

Daniela Piussi, Unijolly's general manager, says that when council officials started searching for a new caterer, they weren't just looking for good food, they also wanted to promote a healthier diet among its civil servants.

"As we offer a low-fat, Mediterranean diet, we were well placed to win the bid," Piussi said.

Since taking over, Mammola and his international team of 37 chefs - some of whom are French, Belgian, Slovenian, Spanish and German - have replaced butter with extra-virgin olive oil and stock cubes with real broth.

Grilled vegetables are now available far more frequently than French fries, while pizza is about to make its debut in the cafeteria of the Justus Lipsius building.

And while the antipasti may be typically Italian, Mammola's team try to offer a truly European variety of recipes - from Hungarian goulash to Spanish paella. Their sausages come from Germany while the fish, fruit and vegetables are now imported from Spain.

Overall, clients appear to have responded positively to the change.

Joal Miranda, a council official from Portugal, said the soups had improved. And while his colleague Anna Lopes missed the grilled shrimps with white rice which she used to relish, Nora Kramer, an Austrian-born translator, praised Mammola's stuffed peppers and roast potatoes.

This correspondent found that the strozzapreti pasta in a courgettes and bacon sauce was perfectly al dente and remarkably similar to the one he used to enjoy in Rome.

Unijolly says the next step is to teach its clients to appreciate the richness and variety of Europe's regional foods, perhaps by describing a product's history and explaining why it tastes so.

"Too many bureaucrats grab the first dish they see and gobble absent-mindedly while reading the newspaper. We want to change that," Piussi said.

Baku Higher Oil School honors memory of victims of Khojaly genocide (PHOTO)
Baku Higher Oil School honors memory of victims of Khojaly genocide (PHOTO)
Mine explosion kills one in Azerbaijan’s Sugovushan
Mine explosion kills one in Azerbaijan’s Sugovushan
Myanmar police issue arrest warrants for celebrities for endorsing strike movement
Myanmar police issue arrest warrants for celebrities for endorsing strike movement
Loading Bars
Latest
Diplomats accredited in Azerbaijan start visits to liberated lands (PHOTO)
Iranian currency rates for March 6
Azerbaijani Nakhchivan's Separate Combined Arms Army holding live-fire training classes (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Azerbaijani Agency for Development of SMEs continues to support self-employment program
COVAX delivers over 20 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 20 countries - WHO
Interest-free funding regulation may boost Turkey's home sales
Iran records 0.8% economic growth under sanctions, pandemic
2021 Index of Economic Freedom: Georgia 12th in world and 7th in Europe
Electricity consumption in February amounted to 1.6 bln kWh in Kyrgyzstan
Chinese investors have major potential for attracting cargoes to Georgian Anaklia seaport
Belgium announces phased plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions
More than 20,000 U.S. organizations compromised through Microsoft flaw
U.S. detained nearly 100,000 migrants at Mexico border in February
Number of German enterprises in Uzbekistan increases in last four years
Spike in Canada exports to U.S. leads to surprise January trade surplus
Brazil working with Biden on climate, Amazon deforestation - foreign minister
Luxembourg ratifies protocol on tax agreement with Russia
U.S., Britain announce 4-month tariff suspension in aircraft subsidy dispute
Aeroflot to make flights to Seychelles from April 2
Kazakh MFA talks great importance of developing relations with Turkic-speaking countries
Georgia expands list of countries from which tourists can travel to country
Iran to hold talks with EAEU soon
Pfizer vaccine to arrive in Georgia in the week of March 22 - seputy health minister
Turkey registers more than 11 302 new coronavirus cases
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan ink agreement to step up cooperation in healthcare
Wind energy replaces coal as Germany's biggest energy source in 2020
National Bank of Kazakhstan adopts several anti-crisis measures during COVID-19 pandemic
Azerbaijani FM, head of Baku office of CE exchange views on development of new action plan for cooperation (PHOTO)
Norwegian company discloses amount of investments made in Azerbaijan
BSEC countries discuss impact of pandemic on tourism sector
Azerbaijan’s AzerGold, Chem Trade company sign contract
Georgia-Ireland Council to be important chain for strengthening bilateral economic relations
Uzbekneftegaz, Uzbek-Chinese JV talk prospects for co-op in oil, gas industry
Russia's Rosselkhoznadzor discloses volumes of agricultural products supplied to Georgia
World Bank may support Azerbaijan in fight against COVID-19
Azerbaijan names volume of compulsory non-life insurance market in Jan.2021
Swiss plan free coronavirus tests for population
Liberated Azerbaijani lands have great potential in winemaking
Azerbaijan may apply quarantine measures if COVID-19 infections continue to increase
UK watchdog looks to 'open banking' apps to help boost competition
Georgian mobile operators see decrease in total revenues for 2020
Georgia plans to build hanger in Telavi airport for private jets
Chevron to buy out Noble Midstream in all-stock $1.32 billion deal
Azerbaijani State Security Service shares grief of death of Turkish servicemen
Azerbaijan eyes to start employment promotion activities in liberated areas
Armenia once again demonstrates that it is far from sound thinking - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
Initiated by Mehriban Aliyeva, Heydar Aliyev Foundation makes new contribution to protection of world and religious heritage in Vatican (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's MoD shares footage from Aghdam's Taghybayli village (VIDEO)
Kazakhstan offers Uzbekistan to consider launching production of Kazakh COVID-19 vaccine
Mehriban Aliyeva appointed as first deputy chairperson of New Azerbaijan Party
First website of sign language dictionary to be developed in Azerbaijan
Trans-Caspian Fiber Optic Cable Project discussed at “Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan: New Opportunities for Cooperation” event (PHOTO)
Turkey’s activity on Turkmenistan’s state commodity exchange in Feb. 2021
Iranian parliament approves increase of salaries
Baku International Sea Trade Port expanding co-op with in Netherlands
Azerbaijan's internet provider eyes to expand coverage of communication services
Trade takes up largest share in total turnover of Georgia's business sector
Volume of Azerbaijani Depository Center's Feb. 2021 bond payments revealed
Volume of business sector turnover up in Georgia
Italian companies eye returning to Iranian energy market
Azercell reveals the “Victory Year”s results
Main share of industrial production volume in Baku accounts for extractive sector
Azerbaijan records decrease in Jan. 2021 population's bank deposits
Five impressive facts about OPEC+ meeting
Total amount of transactions on Turkmen state commodity exchange for Feb. 2021
Kazakhstan to hold auctions for selection of flexible generation projects
Azerbaijan's police officers find munitions in liberated Shusha (PHOTO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 5
Reliability of Azerbaijani data center confirmed by int’l certification institute
Iran receives third batch of Sputnik V vaccine
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 6
Azerbaijan confirms 175 more COVID-19 recoveries
Kazakh Kazatomprom to hold additional auction on its solar energy assets
Turkmenistan considers promoting expansion of partnership opportunities within ECO
Hungary eyes increasing medicines supply to Uzbekistan
Azerbaijani PM expresses condolences to Turkish VP over helicopter crash
Azerbaijan's Minister of Economy highlights country's progress in terms of economic freedom
Australia resumes postal communication with Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan holds auction for public property facilities
Volkswagen core brand to accelerate electric vehicle shift
Kazakh airlines launch new flight to Uzbekistan
Uzbekneftegaz, Gazprombank co-op to increase hydrocarbon production
Investment in development of Chabahar Port continues
Britain starts formal countdown in 'final chapter' of Libor
Volume of food products sold in trade network of Azerbaijan’s Baku city increases
Maritime India Summit-2021 celebrates ‘Chabahar Day’
Egyptair to replace Sinai Air on Tel Aviv - Cairo route
US experts visit war-torn areas of Azerbaijan's Tartar (PHOTOS)
Three possible scenarios on economic dev't regarding COVID-19 crisis in Georgia
Kazakhstan reports increase in overall 2020 trade with Greece
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
Small solar photovoltaic station launched in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Kazakh National Bank shares data on money transfers via payment systems for 2020
Azerbaijan's Internet provider increases contribution to country's educational sphere
PASHA Bank talks possible development of 'neo-banks', information security in Azerbaijan
SOCAR becomes main supplier of Lithuanian gasoline to Ukraine
Azerbaijan to study underground water resources through satellite images
Kazakhstan discloses target volume of electricity generation for 2021
Fidelity Investments Inc acquires shares of Bank of Georgia
Deposits dev’t of Turkmenistan’s Uzynada field to increase oil, gas condensate production
All news