We all love Italian cuisine. But it seems that the hapless Italians won't be allowed some of their own food.
An Italian cabinet minister's proposal to ban lunch breaks (yes, you read that right!) to increase productivity has been vehemently rejected by all and sundry.
Gianfranco Rotondi, minister for programme implementation, made the suggestion on Monday, saying, "The lunch break impairs work. It is a ritual which brings the whole country to a halt."
His statement provoked an outcry. "But has Rotondi ever worked?" Communist Party official Gianni Pagliarini asked ironically in La Stampa newspaper.
Italians questioned by television stations and newspapers were also against by the proposal.
"An enemy attack on the rights of workers," is how it was described in the Repubblica daily by Michele Gentile, a leader in Italy's largest labour union, CGIL, which has five million members.
"If it is behind the obscure wish to try to lengthen work hours or to increase productivity, then we are against it. The lunch break has been a right for a long time," he said.
"While we are at it, why don't we do away with the annoying ritual of sleep," added Gentile's colleague Carlo Podda in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Nutritionists pointed to potential danger to health and productivity.
"It is meals that synchronise our rhythms. It would be a mistake to disrupt this mechanism with a long fast," said Giuseppe Fatati, president of the Italian Association for Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition, in Il Messaggero daily.
"We cannot let the brain starve. To maintain concentration and productivity, it needs 'fuel'," he said, adding that the absence of meal breaks could also lead to weight gain.