Saturday, June 13, 2015

Considerations on Sicily, food, work and mafia


Who doesn't like the movie "The Godfather"? Undoubtedly it's a good movie. Some say even a masterpiece. But... it's just a movie. Reality is different.
 
A couple of weeks ago I spent a day out with my colleagues. Being at 50 mt far from the sea we thought the best food to have for lunch was definitely fish & chips. Not particularly original, I know. Anyway, ...we wandered for a little while and, when I say wander I mean it, ... until we found a place to eat. 


As soon as I heard the name I didn't really want to eat there. It was called: "The cod father", obviously re-phrasing the famous Coppola's gansgter movie. Not enough with the name, they probably thought it was also funny to add the image of a happy fish (a cod I can tell!!!) holding a gun.

At this point questions come naturally: WHY? Why would you associate the name of your business to something so dreadful? Do you have a marketing advisor? Can you not sell your fish and chips without gloryfing the mafia? 

I am pretty sure that for the majority of people around the world this is not a problem at all, but let me tell you that if this business was located in another part of the globe... let's say for example... in Sicily, there won't be any laughter, as mob is synonymous of death, illegality, violence on any level, murders of judjes, priests, public officers, innocent men & women and even kids. Yes, for some of us the mafia is actually something not funny at all. And it's not a movie, is everyday life, something you can touch and see with your own eyes.

I will
explain in details how it works in Sicily: when we have an entrepreneur that wants to create a business, open a bar or a restaurant, basically a person who wants to work honestly, life is hard if you are based there. Stories are all the same. Only the names keep changing.
And yet I heard another one recently.

It's the Massaro Bar and Pasticceria who has received unpleasant visits and threats in the last few months. They want the owner and former journalist Francesco Massaro to pay the "pizzo" to the mob, but he stands up strong and with sarcasm replies: "I am not paying for protection, but we have already got raided twice. The third time are we getting a kind of bonus?"

Last year I wrote about the struggles that Chef Natale Giunta had to go through to fight against the organised crime who was asking again money in return for protection of his popular restaurant. Then it was the turn of excellent Sicilian spot Sant'Andrea in the heart of the historical centre of Palermo that, after 20 years of hard work, announced it was about to shut down for good, after receiving continuous threats and intimidations for refusing to payoff, including a huge fire in front of their entrance last march.

After that we heard the story of patisserie Palazzolo, who was asked to pay a large bribe to secure his place inside the airport "Falcone & Borsellino", which not only is illegal and outrageous but if we also consider that Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino are the names of the two judjes killed by the mafia in may 23rd and july 19th 1992 well... it leaves us totally speechless. I could go on and on... as I know thousands of similar stories, and as I said, only the names keep changing. 

Bottom line is... as a Sicilian I feel deeply offended and hurt by all these people that around the world (I know there are several places in other countries as well) exalt something that negative and even make a profit out of it. Something that over decades have spilled so much blood, ripped families apart leaving kids orphans of their parents in so much pain. It's an open wound and always will be! 

Bottom line... if your father, mother, brother, sister or friend were assassinated by one of these organizations only because they wanted to run a business honestly, without bending to their requests, I guess you would take it a bit more seriously. And yesssssss, the world would be a better place. Certainly a place with more conscious human beings.

Are we or are we not living in the era of globalization? You can't say 'I didn't know' anymore, people must start opening their eyes and possibly their brains as well.

I will always support those entrepreneurs that with courage try to work every day in such difficult places around the world, despite the fear, the threats, the violence that surrounds them. And of course I am with those who have lost a relative and suffered for that, because... I can't stress enough the concept: it is not a movie, it is not "tomato sauce" on the shirt, for some of us it's real pain and real blood!

2 comments:

  1. Sicily is very nice to visit, tourists love the sea and the climate.
    Many people associate "Sicily = Mafia".
    Unfortunately this story will be etched in everyone.
    And Sicily despite its beauty, will be tarnished for life as "Mafia".
    I personally recommend you see Sicily and not to stop the rumours, take a nice Tour Of Sicily (for example: http://www.tourofsicily.com/tours/) have fun and relax.

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  2. I am Sicilian, I don't need to go on a tour with your company to see how beautiful my land is. Thanks.
    And this article was not an attempt to stop the rumours but a way to make people think.

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