Pass the Parmesan cheese

Take a guess where an Italian restaurant opened in late 2008. From AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has ordered the opening of the isolated country’s first Italian restaurant, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported, despite the nation’s continuing struggle to feed its 24 million people.

Kim — a reputed gourmand — sent North Korean cooks to Naples and Rome last year to learn how to reproduce authentic Italian pizza and pasta after “repeated trial and error,” the newspaper said Saturday, citing a restaurant manager.

If my father was still alive, he should have sent the cooks to Florida. Dad* used to make the best meatballs.

“Our people should be also allowed to enjoy the world-famous food,” the manager of the Pyongyang eatery quoted Kim as saying, according to the Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo newspaper.

The newspaper, considered a mouthpiece for the communist regime in Pyongyang, said the North’s government buys wheat flour, butter and cheese from Italy for the restaurant.

It is unclear how many North Koreans can afford to eat out — let alone eat imported food — in a country that is among the poorest in the world. The average per capita income was $1,150 in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the South’s central bank.

The article went on to say the restaurant was crowded since its opening last December. Do the laws of supply and demand work in the Hermit Kingdom? The above article is based on news reported by the North Koreans themselves. The North Korean media wouldn’t make things up, would they?

*- My father passed away 12 years ago yesterday.

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