A battle between the Italian city of Parma and Finland's capital Helsinki over who should host a prestigious European food safety agency is rapidly turning into an undignified food fight.
After Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said at a European Union summit at the weekend that the agency couldn't go to Finland because "The Finns don't even know what prosciutto is", Finland responded in headlines on Wednesday.
The country's largest daily newspaper ran a full-page ad saying "Prosciutto is Ham" with text underneath reading: "Now 1.2 million Finns know this. Is that enough for Berlusconi?"
Undeterred, the Parma Ham Consortium plans to take up the fight where Berlusconi left it, sending a hunk of prosciutto to Finland.
"We will send a whole ham to the Finnish Prime Minister (Paavo Lipponen)," a spokesman from the consortium said. "I hope he won't take offence."
Finns, whose favoured delicacy is smoked salmon, do not have much of an appetite for one of Italy's finest exports, importing only 100 hams last year, against French consumption of 415,000.
While Finland may well have its own esteemed culinary heritage, the spokesman for the Parma consortium seemed unsure of what it might include.
"The first thing that springs to mind when I think of Helsinki is mobile phones," he said.