An Italian offers Užkalnis to run for Italian Parliament. The letter

Gianluca Armone and Andrius Užkalnis
DELFI montažas

I read amused and resigned, the article that this national popular “Critic” has done on my restaurants. Amused because this person, like many politicians in my country, is able to fill a web page of words without eventually talking about anything.

Resigned since, as often happens, to the slowness of the human mind there are daily examples, regardless of the country you do come from, regardless of the age of the interlocutor.

I would have expected that an exponent of the culinary criticism of this spectacular country which is Lithuania, would have paid more attention to those like me (and I’m not the only one) which are trying to bring innovation with many sacrifices and therefore contribute to help this country to grow, risking his own financial capital as well as investing his own life believing in what he does.

When I started the Bonocosi project many years ago I decided to give the inhabitants of this wonderful city that has been hosting me for many years something more to do on Saturday night with their family. I decided, as shown by several interviews that I have released in recent years, to talk about the food of my Country, explain the difference between fresh mozzarella and mozzarella not fresh, inform citizens about how to choose the products … and after two years I can say I have won. The Bonocosi family has grown in two years, and the esteem of our customers has grown too. This has led us to open a new restaurant each year, and to build a tight relationship with our clients which in fact alert us as soon as one of our Pizza maker loses a centimeter of the edge in our pizza or slices badly the salami.

I brought the Pizza al Metro in Lithuania, I brought the Arancini to Lithuania, I brought the news in Lithuania, but this gentleman I do not have the pleasure of knowing, does not even know the difference between the Neapolitan Pizza and the Pizza al Metro and in fact he cannot even mention what this is.

What does a “food critic” differ from a “bar” opinion? What is the first rule of journalism? As I have always thought, the Gastronomic critics are referenced people, people with a real experience and big culinary culture, people who give technical judgments based on specific knowledge, rather than simple generic opinions. And as well I thought that journalists have the must to get informed carefully before writing something. People who can influence an audience with their word, should fill the responsibility of their job!

But I remain with the doubt that I’m wrong about the concept of food critic and I persist in reading what has written by this gentleman.

I read unsubstantiated comments, clichés such as “in shopping malls you cannot expect quality”, “Italian restaurants in Lithuania have never been lucky”, etc. … and I keep asking “Yes, but you Critic, what are you talking about?” I do not read about the level of acidity of the tomato, the place of origin of the DOP olive oil that is on each of my tables (for free), I do not read the type of flour that is used for our pizza, I do not read the type of oven used for the our pizza, I do not read abaut handmade ravioli, I do not read about our first class coffee sold at 0,9euro … I do not read about “Traditions” but what is worst, I do not read any “questions”, I do read only about certainties, and when a men has only answers and not questions, either he is Superman or he is a Stupid (that’s what my dad told me)… All in all I read comments that have the same intensity and relevance of a carpenter who speaks of the painting technique used by Michelangelo.

I would expect from a journal emblazoned like Delfi, that by the way chosen my restaurant to represent Lithuania in the 2017 celebration of the world day of Pizza, to reserve a space for Gastronomic critic who at least have a real culinary experience before starting to talk about such a huge and centenary chapter which is the Italian cuisine. When you talk about it, you talk about hundreds of years of family traditions which made my country what it is in food… what do you know about it?

I have always gladly accepted every comment, complain, criticism of my beloved clients, I have always considered them an idea to grow and improve; but when I read articles written by people whose job is not clear, which is known to most of people for dubious reasons, well in that case I ask the publisher if it would not be better to use that web page to talk about why the sea is wet or maybe because the sun is hot? (maybe it would be more interesting). Or being serious, to talk about something that matters…such us, why in Lithuania you receive low-quality row materials when it comes to food, or why is there such a huge turnover when it comes to restaurant personnel in Lithuania?

In the 6 years of my staying in this wonderful country, I have never been amazed by the thousands of comments I gathered during this adventure, even when they were extravagant and sometimes funny, such as “The best Sicilian Cannolo, the original one comes from Malta”, or ” Bruschetta with cherry tomatoes was born in Poland” … thank God we are in a democratic country, where there is freedom of expression, and God escapes us from those who want to gag the opinion of others.

But my cigarette is almost finished and I am still confused… so I go to the Italian Dictionary to read the meaning of the word, “Gastronomic Critic”. I read textually “the one who analyzes and evaluates rationally on the basis of technical knowledge”.

Then everything was clear to me! The person who wrote this article, is not a culinary critic neither a journalist (neither superman)… He is actually a middle-aged gentleman who clearly, of Italian culinary culture, has never heard anything but decided to give a personal opinion (perhaps without personal third-interests, or maybe not …) so that he would not make his audience forget that he exists … Or maybe I do not have to think that the reviews in the newspapers, to be honest, should be said “supported” in some other way ? who knows …

The cigarette is over now and I still have the doubt (I have not only answers, I am not superman), Then I decide to simply smile, and continue with my work.

When one day I will leave this country I will now that for sure I left something to be remembered for… somebody liked, somebody did not… but I tried. And you “writer” what will you be remembered for?

Bonocosi will perhaps never be perfect, but I will never stop trying to make it perfect, and since a BAR opinion has been given on my Bonocosi, let me nicely give 1 star out of 5 to the article of this “famous journalist” (1 and not 2 because he did not even “tried”) … wishing everyone good Pizza but especially, good life.

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