A Guide to Italian Food and Wine Certifications

Acronyms like DOP, IGP, and DOC represent different legal certifications for the origin, production, and quality of Italian food and wine.

They were introduced in the mid-1900s: as Italy’s products gained in popularity, the market was flooded with low-quality food and wine sold under the guise of the high-quality products they mimicked. To protect its culinary reputation, Italy worked with the European Union to create legal certifications that encourage food and wine producers to focus on quality, tradition, and reliability. To earn the labels, producers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, overseen by the government.

THE SECRET TO QUALITY LIFE

The certifications promise the authenticity – and with that, the tastiness – of a product. We can discover the story of a product just by looking at the label: where it is made, by whom, and with what ingredients.

This translates to you, our customers! By creating and offering the best products, we improve our own lives and bring added value to yours. Enter a world dedicated to quality: that means quality food, quality drink, and ultimately quality time.

But we know that the abundance of acronyms may be overwhelming to navigate at first blush. Check out our guide to Italian certifications, then discover your favorite high-quality Italian products!

DOP: Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin

Created by the EU, DOP ensures that your favorite cheeses, fruits and vegetables, salumi (cured meats), balsamic vinegars, and olive oils are all grown, produced, and packaged within a designated zone and according to tradition. Every step, from production to packaging, is regulated.

This mark separates Parmigiano Reggiano from parmesan cheese, San Marzano from regular tomatoes, and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from the thin condiment you might drizzle over a salad.

IGP: Indicazione Geografica Protetta | Indication of Geographical Protection

Similar to DOP, this certification represents food and condiments. However, it is less strict, tracing food specialties solely back to their geographical location to at least one phase in production. IGP is a good reference, but it does not guarantee all phases, like DOP.

DOC and DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (E Garantita) | Controlled (and Guaranteed) Designation of Origin

Introduced in 1963, DOC pertains solely to wines produced in a specific geographic zone from an officially permitted grape varietal.

The DOCG category is reserved for the highest quality wines from Italy. In addition to the conditions required for DOC, the wines must be “guaranteed” by passing a blind tasting test, administered by officials from the government. Since 1992, there have been additional limitations on permitted yields and natural alcohol levels, ensuring that the wines that meet the criteria for this prestigious category are undoubtedly the best that Italy has to offer

IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica | Indication of Typical Geography

The IGT classification was introduced in 1992 to acknowledge the wines that do not fit into the DOC or DOCG categories but are of superior quality. In particular, the much-lauded “Super Tuscan” wines, made from nontraditional grapes, could not be considered for DOC; however, they deserved recognition. This has also provided an opportunity for winemakers to experiment with grape varieties that are perhaps not native to their region, and truly interesting wines have emerged.

Auguri! With your new knowledge of Italian food and wine, you are ready to eat and drink!

Buon appetito!

Source: Eataly

Video: Easy DIY Cup Ramen

Watch video at You Tube (9:43 minutes) . . . . .

Chinese-style Rice Vermicelli Soup with Ground Beef and Cilantro

Ingredients

1/2 lb rice vermicelli
4 oz ground beef
5 oz pickled cabbage (雪菜)
3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 red chili, chopped

Beef Marinade

1 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
dash of sesame oil
dash of ground white pepper
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp water

Soup

4-1/2 cups or suitable amount of chicken stock
pinch of salt

Thickening

1/2 tsp cornstarch
5 tbsp water

Method

  1. Wash and soak pickled mustard in water with a pinch of salt for an hour to remove salty flavour. Rinse, drain and chop.
  2. Soak rice vermicelli in cold water for an hour until softened. Loosen well and parboil in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain well. Transfer to big serving bowl, covered to keep warm.
  3. Add soup ingredients to a pot. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to simmer.
  4. Marinate beef for 10 minutes with marinade ingredients.
  5. Saute beef with 2 tbsp oil. Add pickled cabbage when beef is nearly cooked. Add red chili and toss well. Mix in thickening solution. Cook until beef is done and the sauce is thickened.
  6. Add hot soup to the vermicelli in the serving bowl.
  7. Add beef and sauce on top of the vermicelli. Sprinkle cilantro before serving.

Source: Hong Kong Rice and Noodle

Shark Fin Ramen

大阪王将『極上フカヒレらーめん』

The ramen is available in Osaka Ohsho Restaurants throughout Japan for a limited time for 980 yen a bowl.

Stop Back Pain Without Drugs

Sally Wadyka wrote . . . . .

For the first time, the American College of Physicians is advising treating back pain with nondrug measures like tai chi, yoga, chiropractic, and massage before resorting to over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers.

The new advice comes as a new Consumer Reports nationally representative survey shows many people with back pain found alternative therapies useful. The survey of 3,562 adults found that almost 90 percent of those who tried yoga or tai chi said they were helpful; 84 percent and 83 percent, respectively, said the same of massage and chiropractic.

New Research, New Guidelines

The new ACP guidelines, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, call for the use of these nondrug treatments first, before using OTC painkillers like ibuprofen, and they also strongly discourage the use of prescription opioid painkillers due to the risk of addiction or overdose.

To develop the new guidelines, researchers evaluated 46 studies on back pain and medications and 114 studies on non-medication strategies.

Many of the recommendations are in keeping with the last set of guidelines—issued in 2007—but there are notable differences.

“The biggest shift is prioritizing non-pharmacologic therapies, using those first versus medication,” says Roger Chou, M.D., professor of medicine, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, and lead author of the new reviews on back pain treatment. “This is the first guideline to really take this stance.”

Nondrug treatments like exercise, massage, spinal manipulation, and acupuncture were all recommended in the 2007 guidelines. Tai chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction are new additions.

The just-released ACP guidelines also move further away from what are sometimes dubbed “low-value treatments,” such as doctors prescribing opioids, performing MRIs and surgeries, and giving injections (such as steroids, which reduce inflammation) to treat back pain.

“Despite the lack of evidence for their effectiveness, doctors are increasing their use of low-value treatments,” says Steven Atlas, M.D., a primary care internist at Massachusetts General Hospital, who wrote an editorial to accompany the guidelines.

What Should You Do For Back Pain?

For low back pain that lasts for four weeks or less (which is considered acute) or up to 12 weeks (subacute), you may not need to see a doctor, unless you need an insurance referral for treatment (more on that below) or the pain is radiating down one leg. (This can indicate that a nerve is involved.)

Try not to give into bed rest: Gentle activity such as walking is more helpful in the long run. And according to the new guidelines, try massage, heat, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation, or chiropractic.

If you have chronic low back pain (which lasts for more than 12 weeks), the new guidelines found that tai chi, yoga, spine stabilizing exercises recommended by a physical therapist, progressive relaxation, stress reduction, and cognitive behavioral therapy were effective.

Whether you have short- or long-term pain, give one or more of the above strategies between a few days to a week, says Nitin Damle, M.D., president of the ACP. After that, if your pain hasn’t begun to ease enough so that you can perform your daily activities, let your doctor know.

He or she can recommend an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain and inflammation for several days.

Here’s what’s considered appropriate: 800 milligrams of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and generic) two to three times a day or 500 mg of naproxen (Aleve and generic) two times a day for five to seven days.

If you’re still not finding sufficient relief, Damle says, your doctor can then prescribe a medication such as tramadol (Ultram and generic) or duloxetine (Cymbalta and generic).

But skip acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic); the new research showed no evidence that it improved pain or function.

Choosing the Nondrug Treatment for You

What nondrug therapy is best? Since no one treatment stood out in the recent studies, pick whichever one is most accessible, enjoyable, and affordable.

Some may be covered by insurance, but you’ll have to check with your provider first. And that, say experts, may pose a challenge in getting doctors on board with these new guidelines.

“There are a lot of practical problems with getting patients into these high-value treatments,” says Atlas. “I don’t have a standard referral mechanism for tai chi or yoga or other mind-body therapies. But it’s easy to give a patient a referral to someone who can do an injection.”

Before trying one of these therapies, get the okay from your doctor and ask if he or she can recommend a trusted practitioner or quality instruction. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, or NCCIH, offers tips for choosing a complementary practitioner as well.

In addition, the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free online mindfulness and relaxation programs, while the NCCIH website features several easy to follow tai chi videos. (Get information on local tai chi instruction from the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association.)

If you decide to try acupuncture, you can check the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for practitioners. Look for local licensed massage therapists through the American Massage Therapy Association website. For chiropractic care, make sure anyone you see is licensed.

When it comes to yoga, the NCCIH recommends that you work with an experienced teacher. (The nonprofit Yoga Alliance requires that teachers have at least 200 hours of training for its certification.) If you’re looking at classes, apps, or online programs, consider gentle or restorative options.

Source: Consummer Reports


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