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Do you come from a country where Meatloaf (or something similar) is a popular food? If not, do you know anyone who does? Please share your international versions of The Loaf and help the American Meatloaf with his brand image.
Departure from the American Loaf
I was glad to receive your reply to my proposal and I was even happier to receive your check. Let’s focus on your overseas branding first. In countries where meatloaf is popular, all you have to do to be successful is be similar to the popular Loaf in each country. I know, you told me that you want to be original and “do your own thing”. That’s cute…very indie and hipster of you, but indie doesn’t sell. Do you want to be served at obscure diners that have 10 customers a day or do you want to go multiplatinum and be served at the most popular restaurants and on millions of dinner tables and? If you want multi-platinum, you’ve gotta fit in, kid. I’m going to tell you how to do it.
First off, forget your U.S. experience. Say goodbye to the over-worked, time starved, sleep deprived parent slapping you on a pan, throwing you in the oven, squirting you with ketchup, and letting his/her kids scarf you down 15 minutes before soccer practice. Say goodbye to American kids wolfing you down as fast as they can, washing you down with chemical infused sodas, and failing to appreciate your aroma or taste.
You will be put on a pedestal in Europe. This will also help with your U.S. rebranding. The American populous is starting to actually think that European is cool. If word gets out that you’re big in Europe, some Americans will feel cool and worldly for eating you.
Italy Versus France: The Polpettone Versus The Terrine
If you’d like attention from amazing cooks France and Italy are the places to be! Italians and French know food! You’ll be admired, praised, and savored like a one of a kind Picasso painting. The catch is you darn well better be perfect. French and Italian palettes are sophisticated and have zero tolerance for mediocre food. If you dare to be a sub-par Loaf, they will reprimand you, boo you off of the table, and throw you in the trash.
Your typical day will look like this: Your cook will visit the butcher, dairy farmer, egg farmer, and the produce farmer to procure the freshest ingredients. No cook will dare to use ingredients that are prepackaged, prepicked, premade, genetically modified, or chemically preserved. Cooking short cuts are a moral offense and those who eat the cook’s meal will never view the cook the same way again…so pick the right cook! If you pick a short cut taking cook, you’ll be subject to merciless criticism, unsavory rumors, and leaked Loaf Gone Wild tapes with inappropriate scenes.
Now, this is serious: France and Italy are in the middle of Food War III (I’ll explain in a minute), so don’t look too French while in Italy or too Italian while in France. What do I mean? The French Loaf is smaller and rectangular and the Italian Loaf is larger and cylindrical. Don’t be a tool and run around France looking like a giant meat cylinder thinking you’ll get away with it. Don’t be rectangular in Italy either. I mean it; you show even one 90-degree angle and you’re a dead Loaf walking! You’ll be caught in screaming matches, fistfights, sword fights, jousting tournaments, battle-ax throwing, and other medieval style savagery. Why Food War III? Each country swears to have the best food in Europe and on Earth. Food is a source of strong ethnic and cultural identity/pride and the French and Italians are very passionate and emotional about it. (If you think I’m joking, go to Italy or France and ask people what they think of the other country’s Loaf…or any food.) Tread lightly. So, let’s take a look at what image you should aspire to in each country.
Polpettone means “giant meat ball”. Polpettones are large and, again, they’re round and/or cylindrical. They’re made differently depending on the city. For example, in Bologna, they you’ll want to have ground beef, pancetta, breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, butter, and olive oil. In Florence, you should have ground veal, flour, lemon juice, sautéed carrots, sautéed onions, and parsley.
French Loaf: Terrine – Ingredients
France has it’s own version of The Loaf, called the Pâté or Terrine. The Terrine, again, is rectangular and smaller than the Italian Loaf.
A few popular Terrines include the following: Pâté de Campagne, which contains liver, pork shoulder, onions, garlic, and parsley wrapped in bacon and served with grainy mustard, cornichons, and a fresh baguette. Terrine Herbette contains pheasant meat, pork, anise liquor, and fennel seeds. There’s also Duck Terrine Mousquetaire, with duck, prunes, and Armagnac. Make sure you follow these role models if you want to hit the top of the charts in France.
French and Italian cultures differ, so make sure you fit in wherever you go. In France, play the role of the introvert. Your fans will eat you in very small groups and in quiet intimate settings. Also, be prepared for them to eat miniscule portions. Don’t be offended by the small portion size. It’s not that people don’t love you and want more of you; it’s just that…they’re French. Also, oversized plates will often be members of your entourage. Don’t resent the plates for being six times larger than tiny old you; the plates are just doing their jobs. Treat them well or they will sabotage your entire performance.
In Italy, go big or go home! Here, make sure you’re large and in charge. The further south you go, the more of you people will eat. If they eat 4 helpings of you and complain that you’re too small and there’s not enough of you, don’t be offended. They appreciate you; they’re just…Italian. In Italy, get over any shyness you have. You’ll be the center of attention, sitting right in the middle of 60 or so people (usually all relatives) having loud animated discussions for hours on end. One warning: Italians’ hands fly around when they speak. By “fly around” I mean move erratically at high speeds, with serious force, and in all directions. Steer clear of the hands; the more passionate the discussion, the more dangerous they are. Many Italian hands have mistakenly knocked food and drinks clear off the table and onto the floor. This is a known occupational hazard for Italian foods, which is why they pay an arm and a leg for workers comp’ insurance and most companies won’t even cover them. I recommend purchasing from Loaf Mutual; that’s the only company still willing to offer coverage to Italian foods.
The Designer Loaf: England –The Terrine
Brits also have a British version of the Terrine. In England, Terrines are considered a high-end expensive food that you’d find at a fancier restaurant, so stick with this image. Terrines can be made with any type of meat and there are also quite a few fish Terrines. If you’re a status conscious Loaf, you will fit in well in England. In England, you’ll be the Prada of food, so act expensive. To maintain your image, be fancy, only be seen with the most expensive garnishes, and act like the rest of the world is not worthy of your attention. People eating you will feel important because they’re eating you and they’ll want to be seen eating you. Best of all, they’ll praise you with accents that sound like Jude Law and Kiera Knightley. If you taste terrible, the Brits will be too polite to say it bluntly. You’ll have to listen for the British equivalent of an insult: a neutral statement NOT followed by a compliment. Here’s an example: “This Terrine tastes different than others I’ve eaten. It’s wonderful!” This means you’re awesome. “This Terrine tastes different than others I’ve eaten…(followed by the absence of a compliment).” This means they hate you. If you’re hated, look on the bright side; at least you’ll be hated subtly and in a British accent.
I’ll have another list for you next week. Remember, you have what it takes to be a superstar! We just have to work on your brand. It’s all about the brand, so study up, kid! You’ve got a lot of work to do!
Chiara I. Tedone
President and CEO
Independent Food Rebranding Agency
About the Author
Chiara is Digital Content Creator and Blog Manager for AMA Tampa Bay. She is Co-founder and Director of Winning the Fight, a non-profit organization specializing in neurodegenerative disease research. Chiara is also a freelance digital marketer for small businesses and is finishing up her MBA with a specialty in marketing from the University of South Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Chiara lived in Washington, DC. She earned her BA in International Studies from American University’s School of International Services in 2007 and worked for Booz Allen Hamilton and the Department of Defense thereafter. Her hobbies include obstacle racing, running, swimming, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and opera/classical singing. She also loves country music and chocolate!
Email: Chiara at [email protected]
Social Media: LinkedIn