Sunday, December 21, 2008

A bonus for the homeless

I'm delighted that an Italian official has displayed common sense - and humanity - in dealing with smuggled goods.

Traditionally it's the food of the wealthy. But this Christmas, the poor and homeless will dine on caviar.

Italy, like many countries, bans beluga caviar, one of the most expensive varieties, to help preserve the endangered beluga sturgeon which produces the prized eggs.

So when officials seized 88lb from smugglers in Milan, it was assumed the £370,000 haul destined for the black market would be destroyed.

But it seems the caviar was just too good to waste.

'Last year, after a similar operation, we ended up destroying all the confiscated caviar,' said an official who deals with protected species. 'This time,' he added: 'I came up with the idea of giving away all the caviar to the poor.'

It is being donated to the Red Cross, Franciscan monks, care homes and organisations which prepare Christmas food for the homeless and poor around Milan.

And the helpings promise to be generous. One shelter is expecting 22lb to feed 82. That makes portions up to three times larger than those in restaurants.

Juri Mantegazza, a spokesman for the Italian Forestry Corps in Milan and who seized the caviar, said: 'We decided that the best thing to do was to donate it but we have kept a small amount as part of the investigation.

'It was found in the fridge of a private house in Milan and the woman and two Poles have been arrested following the discovery.'

Father Virginio Colmegan, of the Casa della Carita (House of Charity) said: 'Every gift we are given is warmly accepted even if the majority of our guests don't even know what these little black balls are.'

"Little black balls", indeed! I wonder how many Milanese socialites will try pretending to be poor on Christmas day, to get triple portions of "forbidden fruit"?



KD5NRH said... it just me, or wouldn't it have made more sense to hammer out some sort of permit quickly, and sell the stuff on the open market, to buy several dozen times its weight and nutritional value in other foods for the poor?

Anonymous said...

Oh come are asking bureaucrats to THINK!!

Anonymous said...

"...that the best thing to do was to donate it but we have kept a small amount as part of the investigation."

Along with some of those little slices of rye bread and a bit sour cream.