On Eataly World, Disneyland and McDonaldification

Salone del Gusto 2012

If there’s one thing a part from talking not to do in the British Library Reading Rooms, it’s grab your computer screen as your draw drops to the floor desk.  Which is precisely what I did when I saw the news about Eataly World.  I was reading Slow Food: The Case for Taste, a bacchanal of Slow Food rhetoric, arguing against everything Disneyland and McDonalds.  Arguing against Eataly world, though they didn’t know it at the time.

Eataly World is the newest venture from Oscar Farinetti, president of Eataly.  It promises to be a fun filled romp through Italian food, aimed at getting the interested observer immersed in the often enigmatic world. Various sites have touted it as the Disneyland of Italian food.  Does this sound like an oxymoron to you?



(image via 24emilia.com)

Although I believe Eataly can have a place in the international discussion on Italian food, I’m shocked by this decision.  Eataly already promotes a lopsided idea of Italian food, shoving together myriad stereotypes with a hefty dose of breakfast cookies.  The movement into overt entertainment highlights the sad truth of the endeavor: all they have to market is an identity.  Why does food have to entertain us?  Why can’t it just be what we eat?

I’m curious: what are your thoughts on Eataly World?  I’m eagerly awaiting responses from Carlo Petrini (founder of Slow Food) and Umberto Eco.  Eataly World should, if nothing else, be a semiotic feast.

Eataly World: yay or nay?


1 thought on “On Eataly World, Disneyland and McDonaldification

  1. rebecca

    Like the article in your link implies, this is about economics. It is absolutely an attempt to market and sell Italian food as a product, a brand, if you will, that like other Italian brands is very popular and desirable all over the world. One of the first meals I ate in Calcutta, India, a few years ago was at a shiny new pizza joint (that was air conditioned and pretty good, considering). The folks at Eataly are simply capitalizing on that product.

    That said, an Eataly opened here in Chicago last year and while I haven’t been to it yet, I’ve been looking forward to it for months. I’m not expecting it to be the San Lorenzo Mercata Centrale, but rather a place I can stock up on certain pasta shapes and indulge at the Nutella bar.


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