STRIKE! drop the tagliatelle & no one will get hurt

pasta by onio-n on flickrI’ve been away from here for a while, so you may be wondering what’s going on in Italy.

Well right here in the Bel Paese where a third of citizens say they prefer a plate of spaghetti over sex, Italy’s going on a pasta strike on September 13.

Seems impossible, insane even, but Italy’s four largest consumer groups are stufi with the planned price hikes of electricity, gas, train service, bread, milk, school books, and, of course, pasta, and they feel that a strike on pastasciutta would be a symbolic demonstration of citizens’ feelings on the matter.

Some say that these planned increases would cause Italian families to shell out another 1000 euros per year on such items, spending up to 25-30% more–a huge increase especially if you consider that the average monthly salary in Italy hovers around that magic 1000 euros mark.

Go ahead. Gasp.

We all know that Italians are famous for their strikes (I’m guessing more than a few of you reading this have been affected by one or another), but a “sciopero della pasta?”

Unheard of, so you know this is serious.

Most Italians eat pasta every day, and some estimates say that an average Italian eats 54 kilos (119 pounds) of pasta per year–for some, as you can imagine, that’s their own body weight or more.

The increasing price of wheat is really behind this, and it brings to mind Mexico’s recent problems with the rising cost of corn to make its famous tortillas. What else is a nation to do when their food staple is threatened?

I have to say I think the Italians have a point here.

Now you may be worried about those Italians who might suffer the side effects of no pasta for a day, but don’t worry–volunteers from the consumer groups will be handing out bread and milk throughout the country to assuage any pangs.

So if you’d like to support your Italian friends, just say no to buying or eating pasta on Thursday, September 13.

And an inside tip?

Start savoring that espresso, as it too has been the victim of a recent price increase.

And if you think Italians are protective over their pasta . . . .


[tags]sciopero della pasta, sciopero, strike, pasta strike, italy[/tags]

46 Beans of Wisdom to “STRIKE! drop the tagliatelle & no one will get hurt”
  1. Poppy Fields

    I think we probably eat pasta 5 days out of 7. The french are mad about wheat price hikes, too. A baguette now costs 1 euro in most bakeries…

  2. sognatrice

    Meredith, the prices are crazy aren’t they? Would be understandable if wages ever rose, but….

    Perhaps there’s a strike in your future too?

  3. Romerican

    i can go a day (or two) without pasta but i’m worried about the coffee strike they mentioned on the news the other day. an entire day without coffee?!? gulp….
    but i can’t blame the italians- some bars in rome are now charging 80 cents- 1.00 euro for a simple espresso, and i’m not talking about bars at Piazza di Spagna or anything of that sort. it’s out of control!

  4. sognatrice

    Romerican, yeah, I’d definitely struggle more with the coffee strike too (I say as I’m drinking my second iced coffee of the day).

    Those prices are crazy for an espresso; here it’s still 60 cents, but I wonder for how much longer we’ll enjoy that bargain.

  5. Gil

    I could survive that strike with all of the fresh fish, fruit and vegetables available in Italy.

  6. Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome

    I know isn’t that amazing!

    Like you say, Italy loves strikes! but a pasta one seems quite something!

    25% price increase is quite a jump though…I’m not sure how much a one day strike helps, but it does send a loud statement!

  7. ritu

    i have a small restaurant at the the Italian embassy, and every one there is talking only about the strike.. nothing else. it is really quite something.. so no pasta on our menu on the 13th of September.

  8. sognatrice

    Gil, sure, but what can you eat with all that great stuff if not pasta or pane?! Aaaah!

    Farfallina, yeah, I’m not a big fan of one-day strikes in general, but like you said, it is a statement.

    Ritu, wow, I had no idea it was such a big topic, although it makes sense that it would be in the restaurant industry. Here I’ve heard no mention of it around town, but I suppose it always takes a little longer for things to trickle down to us.

  9. Jen

    This is a great morning. I was just reading about Kermis over at Goofball’s world and now the pasta strike here.

    Absolutely fascinating. But what a hard thing for the Italians. It seems the world economy is just plummeting all over.

    I’m not sure I could do an espresso/coffee strike. ;-(

  10. african vanielje

    It is a little surreal, and I feel for anyone being squeezed by price hikes. The average cost of food has gone up about 40% in the UK, in the last year, and with all our recent floods, who knows what’s coming. The thing is, I also know that the farmers barely break even and some of them have been completely wiped out, so where is all the money going? Supermarkets?

  11. Yansor

    Just dropping by. Lovely blog.
    a bientΓ΄t !
    TR πŸ™‚

  12. Enza

    I quit eating pasta 9 months ago due to allergies and I love the results…LOL Lost 35 pounds! having a pasta shortage might be a good thing for some! I have to admit though I don’t get these one day strikes. Americans always want to do a one day strike for gas prices. It actually just irritates me like one day is going to do anything but i guess it just makes us feel like we are trying. Ok so now i am just babbling!

  13. sognatrice

    Jen, yes, the world economy seems to be in bad shape pretty much everywhere, and I’m with you on the espresso/coffee strike πŸ˜‰

    AV, you make an excellent point. Wish I had an answer.

    Yansor, bonjour! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

    Enza, hah! Funny that I lost 35 pounds when I *started* eating more pasta! Congrats on the weight loss!

    As you know, the gas/petrol strikes in Italy tend to last more than one day, at least, so perhaps you’d be happier here in that respect? πŸ˜‰

  14. Sharon

    I am not breathing a word of this in my house. I can see the mad drive to the store now to stock up. We have almost as much coffee here as we did pasta.


  15. jennifer

    I know exactly what you are talking about. Those price hikes just kept rolling in over and over until one day you were paying double for just about everything. It had gotten really hard for us with two children. The school books for my seventh grader last years cost 280 Euros! And espresso in the north was even 90 cents in the city! The rising cost of living was one of the big reasons we left…
    Here in America, my kids can’t get over the fact that gas prices really do go up and down, and that all the gas stations don’t have the exact same price!

  16. Ambra Celeste

    Come September 13th I’ll join ’em on this strike, as much for the novelty of it as for the hope it can make a big enough statement to do some good. Sognatrice you really only pay 60 cents for an espresso? Wow. Here in Torino I have had to pay an euro at any bar for the two and a half years I have been here.

  17. sognatrice

    Sharon, I almost referred to your pasta guessing contest here–and now I just saw that you have other collections elsewhere in your house. Yeah, I think you should keep quiet πŸ˜‰

    Jennifer, it’s just unbelievable how prices keep going up–this morning after posting this, I almost pitched a fit at the little grocery store in town because one type of bread was priced 20 cents higher today than it was last week. Turns out it was a mistake in pricing though. Good thing I was nice about questioning it πŸ™‚

    Ambra, here a cappuccino is between 80 cents a euro–and yes, a regular coffee is only 60 cents. Of course people tend to be a lot poorer down here as well, so I suppose it’s relative πŸ™

  18. My Melange


    You blasphemer you. How dare you suggest to poppy fields that a strike may be immement for France. You know I am going there this month…and what on earth would I do if I was deprivied of the very baguette, Poilane bread and croissants that I have traveled so far to enjoy? Death is the only punishment for this me thinks πŸ˜‰

    On a serious note…I am amazed at how these strikes are organized. Do most people participate? In the US..there was talk about not buying gas for one day due to the price… but it would never work.

    Don’t even *think* about an espresso strike. I am having trouble even just typing the words without a breakdown πŸ™‚

  19. Giulia

    Uh oh, looks like Italia will be going on the Atkins diet very soon! YIKES! I’m running off to stock up on pasta! lol

  20. Jannis

    This is why I am so against the production of ethanol gas. When you start using food for gas production food prices skyrocket!

  21. ritu

    thank you Sognatrice.. just called my friend and told her maybe “spinata” is only for export purposes, and not something consumed by the Italians with great gusto heh heh

  22. The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick

    Pasta, bread AND espresso? Like any good Italian, those are my staple items, for crying out loud! I don’t know what I’d do without them. Guess strike day will be my “diet” day. LOL!


  23. sognatrice

    Robin, ah, you’re right–I shouldn’t joke about such a thing…and you bring up a good point. What about the tourists in Italy that day? Hmmm….

    As for participation levels, I really don’t know how something like this will work out; I haven’t been a part of anything like it before, and indeed, when I mentioned it to P, he thought I was crazy πŸ˜‰

    Giulia, now now–that would ruin the whole purpose! πŸ˜‰

    Jannis, excellent point.

    Ritu, hah! Of course I never saw it in the US either…so…I’d be afraid to eat it if I were her πŸ˜‰

    Christina, I hear you, believe me!

  24. Sparky Duck

    does this mean Barilla is gonna sky rocket price wise???

  25. Merisi

    Black Thursday on September 13th in Italy? I shall colour my pasta black with squid ink on September 12th, to give this sciopero extra punch. Apropos scioperi, I recently spent an extra half day in Venice, thank to the Ferrovie dello Stato strike. πŸ˜‰
    Coffee all over Italy is dirt cheap, compared with Vienna’s prices! Un caffe’ 1.60 Euro come minimo, cappuccino 2.50 e piu’ – so, no commiserating here, sorry (not even talking about the fact, that coffee always tastes better in Italy).

    Love your photo of the perciatelle! πŸ™‚

  26. Maryann

    This is happening everywhere. What craziness when basic food staples rise in price. I see this with our breads and cereals. Those items used to be what you ate when you were short of money. This is why I bake bread more often, but even flour costs are going up. Ya can’t win, can ya? πŸ™‚

  27. sognatrice

    Sparky Duck, I’m going to rely on a famous Italian phrase in response to your question: boh!

    Merisi, I *love* that idea! They should incorporate it into the official strike! Sorry about those prices in Vienna–guess you’re paying for the loooong path from the border πŸ˜‰

    Maryann, so true! In fact, now I’m wondering whether the government will be able to keep providing these kinds of products to those with lower incomes. It’s sad when even making bread at home is expensive πŸ™

  28. The Other Girl

    Coffee in Italy sounds much cheaper than in the U.S., but unless I’ve completely screwed up the exchange rate, the pasta prices there are insane.

    In a somewhat related vein (okay, not at all related), I’ve been meaning to ask if you ever eat whole wheat pasta. I’ve tried a few different brands, but they all go from undercooked to mushy in a split second. Either there’s some secret to cooking it, or it’s just naturally disgusting.

  29. lorraine@italianfoodies

    qThey should come to Ireland for a week, they would die of shock at the price of pasta and espresso – €3 average price for an espresso or cappucino! €13 euro+ for a pizza in a restaurant, similar price for a pasta. I always find Italy sooooo cheap but then it’s probably all relative – minimum wage is nearly €9 an hour here!!

  30. sally

    Yes, unbelievable that here in the US (and apparently worldwide), food prices are going up because farmers are rushing to plant a genetically engineered corn only available from large american companies and subsidized by the government making the gigantic chemical/seed companies richer, the people poorer and causing the very inlfation making them consider raising the interest rate that would causing adjustable rate morgages to increase even more, making less money available to buy food and all the other stuff we need in order to control inflation. What were they thinking! The amount of biodiesel that can be produced to replace oil is miniscule and not even cost effective hence the subsidies. (Not even considered is the cross contamination from food corn from this genetically engineered diesel corn because corn is self/wind pollinated. Yes, here in the US, we are subsidizing inflation and contaminating our food source. Corn syrup is a staple in practically all the processed food in the US. They are going to haveto invent a new word to describe what is going on. I don’t know why it would be effecting wheat prices in Italy except maybe, farmers are planting corn instead of wheat. Where does the wheat come from used in Italian pasta?

  31. The Passionate Palate

    Wow, the response on your post is amazing. I guess when you take away people’s staples, or at least the food closest to their hearts, there is a strong reaction. I do hope it does some good with the prices.

    Glad you are back…we missed you!

  32. Dave

    Being here, Italian strikes, and especially a pasta strike, seem a bit odd. But, I kind of like the idea of being mad at prices of utilities, transportation, education and the other staffs of life, you choose pasta to forgo, for a day.

    So, you don’t eat pasta for a day? I go days without buying gas. Prices ignore my protest.

    To me the true genius of your food is the sauce. Striking there, maybe for more than a day, would get things done!

  33. Piccola

    Due to a strike at Fiumicino airport in Rome, I spent 8 hours and the Amsterdam airport (Rome was my final destination) listening to my iPod, who’s inventor is an absolute genius!
    I was less than thrilled about that strike, but a pasta strike…I think my waist line can handle that, especially since I haven’t been as active as usual lately. I think a good alternative will be risotto, well, not exactly easy on the waist line either, but still a good substitute.
    It would be nice if everytime the price of pasta, espresso, gas and so on goes up, our wages would go up along with ’em. Not likely, but it would be nice. In Oregon there is no sales tax and it is always on the ballot when it comes time to vote, but Oregonians always say no to sales tax. They should put inflation on the ballot too!!

    I paid 5 euros for a small capuccino in Monaco, as opposed to .80 cents in Rome!!

  34. Enza

    OMG Sognatrice how did u lose 35 pounds eating pasta! u are my hero!!

  35. -Suzie-

    Ciao bella Sognatrice,

    I am impressed by your blog. Although I am married to an Italian and only come from a bit north of Italy (Germany), the Italians and their culture are different in many ways. It is very amusing to read your observations!
    I might move to Italy one day. So I better get prepared!

    A presto
    Suzie (from palazzopizzo)

  36. sognatrice

    TheOG, I’ve never tried whole wheat pasta, and probably never will if P has anything to say about it; you don’t mess with an Italian’s pasta, you know. Anyway, I hope you can find that happy medium, b/c I wouldn’t want you eating undercooked or mushy pasta. No madam-er-ee! Only al dente for you!

    Lorraine, yes, it truly is all relative–especially depending on where the products are coming from. I can get great tomatoes really cheap πŸ˜‰

    Sally, the problem with the wheat in Europe is that there’s a shortage; there was a lot of rain this past year, damaging crops, and then there’s the fact that a lot of wheat goes to producing biofuels (ethanol), which means less is available for pasta; I’ve now gone back and included a link to a good article about this in the main post, but here it is as well:

    Spaghetti Shock in Italy: Biofuels Boom Results in Pricey Pasta

    Jeni, thanks for the welcome back–it feels nice to be communicating with the outside world again πŸ™‚

    Dave, in the article I’ve linked to above, they say that the meats used in sauce could also be in danger, so you may be onto something….

    Piccola, OK 5 euros for a cappuccino is just insane–I hope it was at least good! But yes, it definitely would be nice if wages at least walked in step with the rising prices.

    Enza, in all fairness to Dr. Atkins ;), I’m guessing that it wasn’t so much that eating pasta made me lose weight–I’m thinking it was the fact that I was and am eating so much less bad-for-me stuff and moving more. Everything in moderation πŸ™‚

    Suzie, thanks, and I’m so happy we’ve found each other as well; I look forward to reading about your Italian experiences–and yes, from one person to another, they can be as different as polenta and pasta πŸ˜‰

  37. Judith in Umbria

    Whole wheat pasta is just naturally disgusting, IMHO. (strike the H)

    So, what will it be for you, Sognatrice? Pasta fresca or risotto on the 13th? If there is flour and eggs, there is pasta. Poor Ivano thinks he hasn’t eaten if there is no pasta! (I have duck fat if you want potatoes!)

    All these prices that sound cheap to other nationalities are cheap because Italians get paid nothing. Un caffΓ© here is 80 centesimi. It’s a tablespoon if coffee, folks! I paid that in Tuscany yesterday and all the time here in Umbria– but not in city centers like Siena and Florence.

  38. sognatrice

    Judith, I trust your (H-less) opinion on whole wheat; I won’t even go there.

    For my house, I’m going to push for a lot of vegetables (and probably either fresh rabbit or chicken) on the 13th; I don’t see homemade pasta in the near future, although it is on tap for the winter if we can find ourselves a machine. Neither P nor I are huge fans of risotto, so I doubt that’ll be happening.

    You’re very right about the coffee. When you compare a Starbucks grande to a teaspoon, perhaps the prices are actually pretty much the same by volume. And cities are definitely way more expensive, surprise surprise.

  39. Enza

    ok i see! i thought u were going to tell me about a fabulous way of eating pasta and not gaining a pound πŸ™‚ I was not at all about Atkins but after i developed a strange wheat allergy and had to cut out everything wheat and gluten, the pounds just started melting off. So instead of pasta and breads, i increased my proteins and Viola it’s sort of like the Atkins diet. It works although I could really kill right now for pizza and ravioli!!

  40. sognatrice

    Enza, well I think there is a fabulous way of eating pasta without gaining a pound (so long as you don’t have allergies to it!) and that’s to eat it as part of a well-balanced, healthy diet–and control the portions!

    For you, your “diet” will likely allow you to keep off the pounds b/c you’ve essentially made a lifestyle change–and that’s what most people *really* need to do in order to lose weight.

    Easier said than done, I know, but IMHO, so worth it to feel healthier and better about oneself πŸ™‚

  41. Calabrisella

    La mia famiglia sta soffrendo a causa di questo…
    Γ¨ una situazione realmente triste…

  42. Taffiny

    Theog- I have wondered that too. They tell us in U.S. to eat whole grain pasta, and whole grain breads. But don’t the Italians, eat regular pasta, and the French eat white flour baguettes? And aren’t they much healthier than we are. Confuses me. (leads me to believe the bread and pasta are not the problem)

    Dave- yes, the sauce. My son is horrified again and again, to see me eating pasta sauce (minus the pasta) for dinner. My fav comes from Italy and has eggplant in it. ( He keeps telling me “people don’t do that”. I keep reminding him “I am a person”)

    African V, I find mystery here too. Where does the money go? Reminds me of hospitals, everything costs a fortune there (just say no to cotton balls and q-tips, or you will have to sell your car to cover the cost), and yet hospitals always say they are going bankrupt.

    I am now hungry for pasta, and am mentally planning tomorrows dinner. (you will have to remind me on the 12/13th, if you want us to join you. I am sure I can commit myself to a one day pastaless protest.)

  43. sognatrice

    Calabrisella, Γ¨ una cosa proprio brutta.

    Taffiny, you’ve hit on something that I touched on a bit above–it’s not *just* about the pasta and what kind it is, IMHO, it’s about all those other things eaten in addition to the pasta. For instance, most Italians would never think of eating bread at the same time as pasta–and with butter? Aah! No! Right there, look how many calories and fat grams they’ve saved.

    Then there’s the sauce that you love πŸ˜‰ Most Italians don’t use a lot of sauce on their pasta whereas in an American Italian restaurant, sometimes it’s hard to find the pasta in the mountain of sauce (one of many reasons I never went to many Italian restaurants in America even before I lived here).

    Honestly? I think processed food is the one to blame–regular pasta and bread, in moderation, isn’t inherently unhealthy.

    Too funny about reminding your son that you’re a person! Anyway, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to eat just sauce for dinner once in a while, although I’d recommend going heavy on the eggplant πŸ˜‰ Yum!

    About AV’s point, yes, again with hospitals there’s a similar issue. Insurance and drug companies? Hmm….

    As for the reminder, I’ll be sure to mention the strike again on/around the 13th πŸ™‚

  44. Karen Cole


  45. stefanie

    A pasta strike?? I’d be hard pressed to think of something sadder than that! Tragic!

  46. sognatrice

    Stefanie, tragic indeed! Good to see you back around πŸ™‚

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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