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Opinion – Gross Kitchen: The Pizzeria Killer


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Edgardo Greco has the murder of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo on his shoulders. He was a fugitive from Italian justice.

In 1991, the Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death, crushed with blows from an iron bar, inside a fish warehouse. Their bodies were never found. The police presume they were dissolved in acid.

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Interpol captured Greco on Thursday (2) in the French city of Saint-Etienne. A member of the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, he had become a chef. He made his living by baking pizzas, cooking pasta and posing, all smiles, for photographers in the regional gazettes.

Anyway, reality fulfilled the fantasy script of half of the people who open a pizzeria or cafeteria. Take pictures of Al Capone on the wall, mafia spaghetti, Camorra here, Cosa Nostra there. It is the default of every establishment that wants to look Italian.

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The romanticization of gangsters as a handful of cooks is the offspring of Italian-American fiction. In Coppola and Scorsese’s films, blood and tomato sauce are interchangeable elements.

As the episode of Greco’s arrest showed, the portrait of Don Corleone in the canteen is not always caricatured and unrelated to the real world.

Fugitive criminals are everywhere – and gastronomy, like pirate ships, has historically been receptive to workers with a cavernous past.

We tend to be suspicious of the Neapolitan who makes pizzas in Bahia. Or the Frenchman who sells crepes in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro. Why would they trade Europe for a mud house with a leak?

These, in general, got entangled with people from the land and decided to stay. The exhibitionist mobster is an exception.

Root Bandit likes to hang out behind the kitchen door. Peeling potato. Sanding pan. Without attracting the attention of the clientele, enchanted by the proposal and the concept of the house.

A restaurant never lives up to the image it sells. As, indeed, any business, family or person.

Behind the cheerful and hospitable facade, there is always something you don’t want to show. It could be bugs and rodents, it could be a mob hitman.

Between one thing and another, the restaurant can employ slave labor, hide a money laundering operation, evade taxes, pocket employees’ tips, adulterate the olive oil on the table, lie about the fish of the day.

The smiling service, not infrequently, is a blade of professional impudence on a heap of family intrigue, corporate betrayal, burnout, depression and chemical dependency. It may not have any of those things, but it’s never a gondola ride on the canals of Venice.

In São Paulo, a law obliges restaurants to nail a sign to the wall with the phrase “visit our kitchen”. Do you really want to meet? I don’t recommend it, I’ve never done it and I don’t know anyone who has.

When you go out to dinner, you buy a costume – it doesn’t matter if you’re a waiter dressed as a mobster or a mobster dressed as a pizza maker. Paying for fantasy and receiving reality is throwing that money in the trash.

(Follow and like Cozinha Bruta on social networks. Follow the posts on Instagram and twitter.)

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