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Grana Padano
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Every year the Michelin Guide awards its latest stars; every year there is bickering; every year Italian chefs get pissed off because it appears that the Guide favours the ‘fancy French’ restaurants.

Nevertheless, we all dream of getting a star.

I don’t have one and I’m no snob; I would really love to have one and, to tell the truth, I feel a bit of wholesome envy of those who do.

For my birthday, my girlfriend gave me a star with my name from the NASA Webpage. The birthday card said; “This one is for ever and is far more valuable”! I thanked her, pretending to feel touched, but I really wished I could send her happily into orbit to accompany that star of mine...

But then, jokes aside, I’ve always asked myself how it’s done; how is it done in practice; who is it that gives you the star; how and when does it arrive?

I know that the new Guide always comes out around New Year’s, and I’ve always imagined that the chef, unaware, is visited by a messenger late at night, probably after service.

I imagine the messenger to be tall, blond and cold; an apparition found at the door of the still humble kitchen, illuminated by the neon lights, while the chef is preparing brazed she-ass and beef stew, and announces the grant of the star to the selected.

The immaculate grant.

It’s a waste of words to say that the messenger’s name is almost always Gabriel.

Of course, you’ll probably think that I have an overactive imagination, but I can assure you that some of the starred chefs I’ve met walk two spans from the ground, and it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that when they’re in the kitchen alone, some try to multiply the buns and the sea bass or to revive a couple of lobsters, for nothing other than to lower the costs a little. Indeed, it seems that one chef, upon receiving the highest possible recognition, his third star, evidently in the state of mystical ecstasy, set forth to the nearby market railing against the dumbfounded merchants, overturning stands and crying; “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise up a restaurant.”

There is, therefore, no use in denying that Michelin makes even those dream who do not believe that it is an independent and impartial guide. One star is the fruit of a lot of work and research, and it brings glory and almost always business. Certainly, the criteria of the awards are subject to opinion; probably, being a French guide it tends to promote French interests, and frankly I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, we Italians are not capable of creating an institution on par with Michelin; therefore, until we do, we’ll have to appeal to it as to the Holy Spirit.

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