Heated response to the Gambero Rosso (Red Lobster) controversy

gambero rosso

Above: Gamberoni in Castiglioncello, Tuscany, at Nonna Isola.

Few remember that the Gambero Rosso monthly magazine and publishing brand take its name from the “Osteria del Gambero Rosso” or the “Inn of the Red Lobster” in The Adventures of Pinocchio, which originally appeared in the Italian in the early 1880s.

Here’s a transcription of the scene in the book where the Cat and the Fox first take Pinocchio to eat there (from a 1904 English translation):

    They walked and walked and walked until they arrived at the Red Lobster Inn, tired to death.

    “Let us stop a little here,” said the Fox, “just long enough to get something to eat and rest ourselves. At midnight we can start again and to-morrow morning we shall arrive at the Field of Miracles.”

    They entered the Inn and seated themselves at the table, but none of them were hungry. The poor Cat felt very much indisposed and could only thirty-five mullets with tomato sauce and four portions of tripe; and because the trip did not taste just right he called three times for butter and cheese to put on it.

    The Fox would willingly have ordered something, but as the doctor had told him to diet, he had to be contented with a nice fresh rabbit dressed with the biglets of chicken. After the rabbit he ordered, as a finish to his meal, some partridges, some pheasants, some frogs, some lizards, and some bird of paradise eggs; and then he did not wish any more. He had such nausea for food, he said, that he could not eat another mouthful.

    Pinocchio ate the least of all. He asked for a piece of meat and some bread, but he left everything on his plate. He could think of nothing but the Field of Miracles.

Some believe that the fictional osteria is based on the Trattoria da Burde near Florence where author Carlo Collodi (Lorenzini) dined regularly.

italian crawfish emilia

Above: An image from my first “crawfish boll,” which took place not long after I moved to Texas to be with Tracie P.

Gambero rosso is also a designation used by Italians for the common American crayfish, the “Gambero Rosso della Louisiana.” Its introduction to Italy in the mid-1800s led to a series of crayfish plagues in Europe.

Collodi was certainly aware of the crayfish calamity of his era and the very name — gambero rosso — surely instilled biblical fear in the minds of his readers.

In the light of this, the choice of gambero rosso for the title of a magazine devoted to Italian gastronomy may seem infelicitous to some.

gambero rosso trash

Above: The Gambero Rosso brand has often been the center of controversy and its editors have often been accused (however informally) of conflict of interest. I’ve written about the brand on many occasions.

On Monday, when I posted my translation of an open letter by a confederation of Italian winemakers to the editors of the magazine, I didn’t imagine the heated reactions that the post would generate (just look at the comment thread and you will find the comments and links to other bloggers who posted view points often diametrically opposed to one another).

For my part, I was just trying to provide a public service by rendering the text of the letter into English.

O, and one last thing…

Down here in Texas, you know what they call the gambero rosso?

They call the little critters mud bugs.

Tomorrow, I’ll get back to the business of posting about the wines we’ve been tasting and some of the interesting wine professionals I’ve had the chance to interview recently. Thanks for reading…

One Response to Heated response to the Gambero Rosso (Red Lobster) controversy

  1. [...] Heated response to the Gambero Rosso controversy [...]

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