Do not tell me no, almost everyone marvels at the “work” of the gastronomic juries and the inspectors of the various “hostelry” guides who periodically assault our bookstores among which undoubtedly, the Michelin Guide takes the palm . For many of you I imagine it has to be a delightful dedication, but believe me, what little I like and what tires and overwhelms me . For what I have been able to experience in the first person (which is not much, but something is) as a jury in some local gastronomic competitions as well. And that my dedication has been recreational, not professional, but intense; have to “taste” 25 restaurants within a month knowing that you only have the nights of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to do it … in the end, it becomes heavy (in its strictest sense). In one of those evenings, shared with other members of the jury with much more experience than mine there was a sentence that a comrade told me that in turn had been referred to him by an experienced inspector, this time professional, with not a little boredom: ” How much lobster is there to eat so we can take the chickpeas home! “
Be that as it may be, those people that many say are lucky enough to work on that (today certainly put in vogue with the premiere of the Italian movie, which I have not seen, ” I travel alone ” about the life of a hotel inspector of luxury) are lined with a certain glamor.
However, the samples that we have had in the cinema or in the literature in which the life of these people is presented to us, I do not believe that it can be classified at least in the first instance as glamorous. At least it is the case of the book that I have just finished and which is called ” The inspector sits at the table “
In it, its author Pascal Rémy , tells us in first person the ins and outs of the most prestigious and recognized (by many) gastronomic guide of the whole world : the Michelin. A fact to date impossible to conceive as all workers of this idolized publication were subject by contract to maintain a scrupulous silence about its operation. Perhaps in this case the best word was “secrecy” before even silence, a circumstance that increased his aura and even legend. Well, the book was published in 2004, so the facts correspond to the previous 16 years that its author worked within that organization. It is possible that things have changed since some of the procedures and details that Monsieur Rémy tells us are frankly incredible (or were) for a gastronomic guide of the draft of the Michelin: alarming shortage of inspectors for an infinite list of establishments to visit , malagana and therefore boredom among many of them, absence of family life by the harsh demands of marathon routes, internal training more than questionable, stinginess in salaries and resources, etc …
An incendiary work in its day that caused that the people in charge of the well-known guide went out to the palestra to clarify that this book was a compilation of lies and falsehoods propitiated by an abused worker .
The worst of the realities that in my opinion are highlighted in the book lies in the suspicion, always latent when dealing with these issues, of certain complicities between the editors of the guide and the chefs and local objects of criticism . A kind of do not that not only understands the wording of the guide in its entirety, but also the on-site intervention of the inspectors when they are recognized as such (remember that, in principle, their visits to the premises are done anonymously , although not always achieved) and that may be subject to certain pressures and favorable treatment by chefs and restaurateurs in order to be well placed in the guide .
Back then to my “rare” books. On this occasion, the problem with its rarity is that the volume that I am commenting on today was published in 2004 and, since it is not republished, it becomes quite complicated to find, at least new … and the used book market, as same, you have to be lucky to find him.
Interesting reading, very light, fast (it lasted only two afternoon-nights) and enjoyable for those who have always aroused some interest.
As a curiosity it is worth knowing that in French, the original language of the work, the title L’inspeteur met à table , whose literal translation is the one we know in Spanish, has a double meaning and that “to sit at the table” alludes likewise to those who, in that attitude, are prepared to “split by the elbows” or to tell everything.