Whole nations are divided on the issue of whether Italian movie star Sophia Loren should commercially endorse the products of Poland's second-largest pasta maker, which is privately owned by a French couple.

Danuta, which controls 22% of Poland's pasta market with brands such as Malma macaroni, is hoping that 67-year-old Loren's endorsement will boost sales. General manager Robert Mrozinski told the Associated Press: "Sophia Loren is a symbol of great Italian taste, and she has repeatedly said she owes her great looks to pasta."
 
Loren was due to arrive in Poland yesterday [Tuesday] to film a TV commercial at the medieval Teutonic Knights castle in the northern city of Malbork. The advert will find her leaving a ball, when she will tell journalists that among her favourite things in Poland is Malma pasta.

Back in Loren's home country, meanwhile, the Polish commercial is looking tantamount to culinary treason.

"More than a dish, a plate of spaghetti is a world view," contended Italian daily Il Mattino last week: "Sophia, how does one say 'al dente' in Polish? One just can't."

The paper said that Loren "turns her back on Italian pasta to become a testimonial for Malma", but Mrozinski insisted that the commercial, which is due to be aired in March, would promote Italian cuisine generally.