National: Imagine Life Without A Chinatown

The Tuscan town of Lucca is getting some flack for a ruling earlier this week banning food establishments of other ethnicities from within the city’s medieval walls. That means no fast food, no pizza, no kebab stalls and no Chinese takeout in the city center — only traditional fare, things like tortelli lucchese, farro soup and lots of rabbit. The town council, of course, is now being accused of “culinary racism.”

While there’s probably some xenophobia behind the ruling, there may also be some merit in saving what is, by most accounts, some of the best food in the region and retaining a certain medieval Italian feel in the center of the city. If I’m spending a few days in Lucca as a tourist, that’s exactly what I’d want. If I were living there, however, I probably wouldn’t mind having a pizza place on the corner and a kebab stall down the street. Even if the local traditional fare is stupendous, a little variety is a good thing, right?

So let’s imagine that local city or neighborhood councils decided to curtail which types of restaurants were to open in certain cities/neighborhoods in an effort to freeze an area in a certain time period. No Thai restaurants in North Beach, no taquerias in the Russian/Chinese Richmond, no Little Saigon. And say you wanted to preserve the Mission’s Mexican/Central American vibe for posterity and tourism purposes, we’d be deprived of an excellent pocket of sushi in that neighborhood, as well as personal Italian favorite La Traviata. Scary, huh?

Tuscan Town Accused of Culinary Racism for Kebab Ban [Bloomberg]
The Riches of Lucca [New York Times]

Photo: Cebete/flickr

National: Imagine Life Without A Chinatown