On the occasion of the fifth edition of the World Week of Italian Cuisine, the Embassy of Italy in Riyadh, in collaboration with the Future Food Institute, hosted on 9 December 2020 a virtual expert roundtable on the cultural value of food and culinary traditions: “Saudi Arabia and Italy: A journey between food and culture”.
The event gathered Italian and Saudi experts and professionals with the aim to discuss innovative ways to help people rediscover and express their cultural heritage and identity, to promote healthy diets and lifestyles, to protect and develop the agricultural and food sector.
A specific focus was given to the 10th anniversary of the listing by UNESCO of the Mediterranean Diet as world intangible cultural heritage. The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent example of the cultural value of food and culinary traditions. It encompasses more than just a specific set of food or ingredients, to include a wide range of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions – ranging from the respect for the territory and biodiversity to the way food is produced, consumed and shared at the table.
The roundtable was opened by the Ambassador of Italy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Roberto Cantone, and chaired by Sara Roversi, President and founder of the Future Food Institute.
“The Italian Cuisine Week allows us to showcase Italian cuisine worldwide – declared Amb. Roberto Cantone – but it also offers the incredible opportunity to engage in a wide-ranging conversation about food – to discuss what we eat and how we eat it, the way we produce and consume food and how it impacts our wellbeing, our communities, our economies and our planet. These issues are at the centre of the international agenda and Italy plays an active role in promoting and raising awareness about them, including within the framework of our G20 Presidency, which we took over from Saudi Arabia on 1 December.”
Sara Roversi added: “Future Food Institute is proud to cooperate with the Italian Embassy in Riyadh in order to bring Italian best practices and innovative business cases, as well as to promote our common cultural heritage. We strongly believe that public and private cooperations, combined with the multilateral approach, can mark the difference for achieving the sustainable development goals of the Agenda 2030 and build thriving global societies. Indeed “People, Planet, Prosperity” (the three priorities of the Italian G20 Presidency) have been the epicenter of our dialogues. This roundtable represents a crucial bridge for partnership development and cultural exchange between Italy and Saudi Arabia.
The main speakers included Mayada Badr (CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission at the Saudi Ministry of Culture), Elisabetta Moro (Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Naples “Suor Orsola Benincasa” and Co-Director of the Mediterranean Diet Virtual Museum) and Cesare Mazzetti (President of Fondazione Qualivita, active in promoting and protecting the uniqueness of food products through “geographical indications”).