30.6.04

a public utility post

last sunday the monthly food magazine that comes with the observer was completely dedicated to italian food.

i will forgive the fact that it used all those worn out clich├ęs you can expect in these occasions: mafia jokes? check
happy families around table? check
pictures of smiling old peasants? check
tuscan villas? check
"insert_name_of_region" the new tuscany? check
etc..? check

i will forgive the fact that the food of northern italy was completely ignored. there's no way you can paint a complete picture of italian food by ignoring the wealth of flavours and wines that come from piedmont in general and the langhe in particular.
no way.

i will forgive all of the above because nowadays i'm older and wiser and more tolerant.
*much* more tolerant.

what i will not forgive though is that the whole of the issue was sponsored by bertolli, which presents its oil as the quintessentially italian product of a quintessentially italian family run producer of centuries old tradition.

the present owners bought the bertolli *brand* in 1994 from the holding company which owned it. just the brand. not the production plants. not the family estate because it never existed in the first place.

moreover, bertolli only packs and resells oil it buys from various sources: not less than 80% comes from spain, greece, turkey, tunisia ( all the big "italian" brands out there - berio, carapelli, carli, sasso etc.. - do the same).

it's not a scam, it is perfectly legal and perfectly detectable: check the bottle and you will see that it only says "packed in italy".

so, next time you want to buy extra virgin olive oil steer clear from the big itaian brands: they just add a premium on the greek oil you find on the same shelf at a cheaper price.

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