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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #152

I love the Italian people.

They are simply wonderful.

Their love of the good things in life may be unsurpassed by any other nationality.

Oh My God, Ethel. Come quick!

Now what, Henry? Are you at that computer again?

(Mockingly) Yes I’m at that computer again!!!

You know it gives you heartburn…

Well, you won’t believe what that Fischer is doing this time!

The Italians work hard.

Oh, he’s not that bad Henry. Certainly not bad enough to give you ulcers.

The Italians play hard.

He’s gonna do it. I think he’s actually gonna do it.

Their love of the good things in life may be unsurpassed by any other nationality.

That numbskull is really going to step in it royally this time!

Heck, there are many times I wish I was Italian.

Here it comes, Ethel!!!

Some of my relatives are Italian.

Here it comes!!!

Easy, Henry, your blood pressure…

In fact…..

YEH, he’s gonna rip Italians. Doesn’t that idiot know he could be dead??!!

Henry, I’m going to bed.

I have never known Italians to be snobby, scraping the ceilings with their schnozzolas.

That’s a trait generally reserved for the upper crust French. When Italians display snobbery, it’s usually in a likable manner, with a smile on face and glass of wine in hand and sauce running down cheek.

That’s why I’m stunned at a culinary controversy that has erupted that makes some Italians looking stuffy and rude.

McDonald’s has come up with a new burger being sold in Italy. The clever marketing folks at the Golden Arches call it the McItaly Burger.

The McItaly burger is made with all Italian beef and is served with Asiago cheese and an artichoke spread.

To me, that sounds pretty good.

Italy’s agriculture minister, Luca Zaia is roaming the countryside, cheerleading for the new McDonald’s item a la the way Tommy Thompson used to brag about his home state: “Wisconsin, where eagles soar, Harleys roar, and Packers score!!!” reports, “Minister Luca Zaia has argued that McDonald's new McItaly burger will pump €3.5 million ($4.8 million) more a month into the pockets of Italian farmers grappling with tough economic times,” and that the new menu item would "globalize the identity of Italian agriculture."

Cue the pompous Italians. reports Zaia is under “criticism that he is selling out to a multinational corporation and sacrificing Italy's culinary reputation in the process.”

Famed Italian food critic Carlo Petrini, with nose completely in air, wrote in a recent front-page column, “Taste, like identity, has value only when there are differences."

The debate has gotten political with the opposition Democratic Party taking shots. Nicodemo Oliverio, the top Democratic Party lawmaker in the lower Chamber of Deputies' agriculture commission said, "I think it's legitimate to ask if Minister Zaia is working for Italy or McDonald's."

Even the British who haven’t exactly captured the globe’s imagination when it comes to food are piling on. A blogger on the Guardian’s web site writes, “
If ever there was a sign of the moral bankruptcy of Silvio Berlusconi's government, it is the sight of a McDonald's apron wrapped around the svelte frame of the Minister of Agriculture Luca Zaia as he helped launch the new McItaly range of burgers. The President of the Council cavorting with young women, the allegations of shady connections, slippery financial arrangements, dubious political allegiances, and all-round dodgy dealings are as nothing when compared to this monstrous act of national betrayal.”

National betrayal? The man hasn’t committed treason. He’s pitching a bloody hamburger!

Italian food critic Emiliano Mei describing the McItaly burger in a BBC news report says, “It’s something that doesn’t belong to our culture. It’s something that we imported from the States. It’s not Italian at all.”

I guess the highbrow food know-it-all Mei never eats tacos or schnitzel.

Interesting that one consumer interviewed by the BBC says he doesn’t think this is best image for Italy, as he’s sitting, eating in a McDonald’s.

Should I want to get picky, I’d suggest provolone or mozzarella instead of Asiago, and I’d ditch the lettuce for onions and green peppers, even some red peppers for some color contrast. And some pepperoncini and a small sampling of marinara on the side.

But I’d certainly try the McItaly, and would probably enjoy it without having my politics or nose out of joint.

The world loves Italian food, in large part thanks to pizza, the gateway entrée to other great Italian dishes. It is silly for Italians to get this upset over a simple hamburger that so far seems to be going over quite well. As the so-called experts pan the burger, Italians are lining up by the hundreds of thousands to buy.

C'mon. Would Wisconsinites get their undies in a bundle if the Department of Commerce decided to promote brats?

Please, Italy, stop acting like the French.

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