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Focus March 2020

The will to start again with renewed vigour 

This state of affairs will end. Let us wait patiently. 

Dear Academicians, the issue of Civiltà della Tavola that you are now reading was made possible by the dedication and professional abilities of our editorial office, graphic specialists and Milan secretariat, who used ‘smart working’ - flexibility in time and space - to send the magazine, complete in every detail, to the printers and thence the postal and courier services. This has contributed substantially to a sense of togetherness among Academicians. The forthcoming issues will be progressively slimmer, alas, due to the nearly total absence of Academic activity, which has ground to a halt in Italy, China and many other parts of the world.  
This pandemic is having harsh, far-reaching and unexpected effects on all group activity as well as many types of businesses, with sometimes dire consequences. We draw little comfort by remembering that the 14th-century the Black Death caused over 20 million casualties in Europe and that the ghastly upheaval was followed by the Renaissance. But it behoves us to recall that this famous Plague in 1630, known in Italy as ‘Manzonian’ because it was described in Manzoni’s The Betrothed, had over a million victims just in northern Italy. During the last century, between 1918 and 1920, 50 to 100 million people perished, including 600 thousand in Italy. More recently, in the post-war period there was the Asian ‘flu in 1957, with 30 thousand casualties in Italy, and the Hong Kong ‘flu in 1968 (also called ‘space ‘flu’ in Italy), with 13 million infected people in Italy and 20,000 victims. And then there were SARS, Ebola, and swine and avian ‘flu. Regarding avian ‘flu or ‘bird ‘flu’, the WHO had predicted at least a million deaths, but notwithstanding experts’ comparisons with Spanish ‘flu, its victims numbered in the hundreds. Many of us are old enough to remember the events of ’68-’69 to varying degrees, including many political and cultural upheavals, but without the media frenzy of today; yet over 20 thousand people died then. Life today is accorded more value than before, but still greater is the importance given to the press, television, the internet and politics. In 1957, when there were 30 thousand dead, the daily La Stampa ran the headlines “A mild influenza sows terror” and “They call it a national disaster, while overlooking 10,000 annual road fatalities”.  
For the record, fatal road accidents have now fallen to barely over 3,000, while deaths for any reason are around 1,800 daily. This depressing mortuary panorama only confirms that this state of affairs will end. This is an era of vigorous interventions and strong safeguards for individuals. Let us wait patiently. Restaurants await, chomping at the bit; many enthusiasts will flock to our convivial gatherings. Our Delegates who strain at the brakes can’t wait to take off again with renewed vigour. Long live the Italian Academy of Cuisine! 

Paolo Petroni
President of the Accademia