The next time you patronize your friendly local Mafia-themed Italian restaurant (Capo’s, Casa Nostra, Goodfellas, etc. etc.) think about this: Not only is the Mafia still a very real, very evil entity that’s a long, long way from being cute, it’s allegedly having a direct impact on the Italian food you’re fixin’ to eat.
Or on real, high-quality Italian food, at any rate: The host of an Italian budget-shopping and -cooking program made news recently by calling for a boycott of Sicily’s famously tasty Pachino tomatoes, saying that their distribution had become monopolized by the Mafia.
According to a BBC write-up on the event: “Shoppers, said [host Alessandro] di Pietro, were being asked to fork out 11 times as much for Pachino tomatoes as growers were being paid. The mafia, he alleged, was pocketing the difference.”
While this particular instance may be a bit shocking to the food world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed the modern mob’s exploits: In his book Gomorrah, author Roberto Saviano reveals many of the organization’s complicated economic rackets and mind-numblingly savage enforcement techniques. (The book’s so good that it earned Saviano a mob death sentence.) So, chew that over the next time you’re sucking down some marinara and meatballs at Lucky Luciano.