... or: Italian journalists and schadenfreude.
Over in Britain: Yesterday the Guardian published this article on Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck bad results after a food inspection. It should be noted that the tests were carried out on 13/2/04 and released recently under the UK's Freedom of Information Act. Not a good result for Mr Blumenthal, yet not something he ignored:
Mr Blumenthal promptly re-organised his kitchen, improved his thermometers, and cracked down on possible cross-contamination. He also hired an independent food safety consultant.
As it is, further test carried last May and July showed no problems whatsoever.
Enter the Italian press: La Repubblica decides to report the news. After all the Fat Duck has won the "Best Restaurant in the World" award from UK Restaurant Magazine. Repubblica reports the news, complimenting The Guardian for their honesty (Blumenthal writes for the paper), but makes a laughable mistake, calling him Sidney. Or does Heston have a twin brother?
Had this been the end, it would remain a silly mistake in an altogether not memorable article. Instead the news gets picked up by Stefano Bonilli, Editor in Chief of Gambero Rosso magazine, on his Papero Giallo blog and Paolo Massobrio of Club di Papillon, a rather important gastronomic society in Italy, in their newsletter. Both do a really bad job in reporting the news. Massobrio writes that Blumenthal's test results are from a few days ago and Bonilli titles his post "Disqualified". Great job for giving the false impression that The Fat Duck has serious food safety problems. All this ignoring, willingly or because of ignorance, the successive thorough measures introduced in the restaurant's kitchen to overcome this problem, something that would deserve a praise in my book. Bad journalism? Or just schadenfreude? The Fat Duck winning the Best Restaurant award and Italian restaurants faring pretty badly probably still burns.
The Italian gastronomic press often accuses foreign reporters of being superficial and not well informed when writing about the Italian food scene. What should one say if some of the most important Italian journalist in the field behave the same way towards news coming from across the Alps? Maybe they should take a lesson from the people over at gustoblog.it who criticized the article with clear arguments.