Thursday, July 14, 2005

The locality of quality

Only a few kilometers over the Italian border into Switzerland, we stopped for the night in Lugano. There we found that a miraculous transformation had taken place – although everyone still spoke Italian, they had forgotten how to make coffee and discovered how to make watches.

Despite the drumbeat newspaper reports of universal globalization, the truth is that there is still an astounding and charming locality everywhere you go. Yes, McDonalds has its tentacles in a surprising number of locations, but what you can find within 100 meters of McDonalds varies delightfully from town to town.

When it comes to quality, everything matters – ingredients, skill in preparation, local tastes and even ambiance. The incredible almond sherbet (mandorla granite) that was universally available in Sicily was completely unobtainable anywhere else in Italy. Even within Sicily every café had its own mandorla recipe so it never tasted the same twice. Vive la difference!