Italy dinner dispute raises alarm at truffle body

Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:18am EST
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By Valentina Za

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - The Alba white truffle association is on the warpath to defend the image of the rare fungus as a dispute over dinner heads for the Italian courts.

The Italian media has been abuzz with news about an unnamed top executive who refused to pay a 4,000 euro ($5,058) bill after dining on truffles with five guests at Milan's two Michelin-starred Cracco restaurant.

Chef Carlo Cracco -- author of the "White Truffle Utopia" -- told Reuters that his restaurant refused to accept the anonymous businessman's offer to foot half the bill or that there was any confusion over the weight or price of the truffles before the diners commenced eating.

Cracco said the party of six consumed about 300 grams of truffle, which cost 10.90 euros per gram.

"They did not want to see the menus. They just said: 'We want the truffles'," he said, adding that they picked two large ones and were duly informed of the weight.

The diner said the truffle had not been weighed, newspapers reported, without giving details on his identity.

The media attention comes at a time when an economic crisis threatens luxury spending and the purveyors of expensive goods such as the truffle are keen to hang on to their markets.

The Alba white truffle association is considering its own legal steps and plans to advocate for a code of conduct for restaurants with truffle dishes on their menus.   Continued...