It was a summer night a couple of years ago when I attended the Accademia Italiana della Cucina local chapter meeting for Atlanta, Georgia, at a restaurant in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta.
The occasion? My wife, Viola Vaccarino, who at the time was the Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and a Professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, was giving a talk to the group on nutrition, one of her areas of expertise. It was a light hearted affair, spear headed by Angela Della Costanza Turner, like my wife a native born Italian, but also Honorary Consulate for Italy in Atlanta and also the daughter-in-law of Atlanta’s founder of the Cable New Network (CNN), Turner Broadcasting Network (TBN), and other ventures, Ted Turner.
Angela rose to make the introduction, and then my wife stood in front of the assembled diners, who represented the elite of the Italian ex-patriates who had come to Atlanta and made their fortunes. Restaurateurs, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Although it does not fit into our stereotype of Italians, a little-known fact is that they have played a major role in many engineering accomplishments over the last century. In fact, at my table was an Italian-born man who had his own company involved in the manufacture of the copper wire and other types of wire that are strung between posts throughout our country and that bring electricity into our households. His factory was located in Carrollton, Georgia, which I discovered had one of the most corrupt histories of the counties of Georgia, and was home to some politicians in the Georgia Governor’s office, including Georgia’s current Labor Commissioner and former state representative, Mark Butler, who is running for re-election for that position as a Republican against his Democrat opponent, Richard Keatley.
During the course of the dinner, he leaned toward me, and said.
I know a man who is the most evil man in the world.
“I think I know who you mean.” I said. “Who?” he replied.