THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING
This post is long overdue.
Now, i will be honest; It is not that i didn’t have time to sit down and write for the past month.
The truth is that, when i am on a vacation, i try very hard to leave behind me all those tweets, facebook posts, emails that hunt us for the rest of the year.
I realized that many times we are so busy being connected to the entire world that we are totally missing the “now” , the people who are surrunding us, the special moments we are part of. We fail to understand the importance of being completely engaged with the present even if that’s all we have and often that’s all that matters.
So, this time, during my flight back home to Florence, Italy, i promised myself that i would take a real break and try to truly be connected with my land, my city, my friends and of course my family rather than with my I-phone. And all the sudden i started to see things differently, or rather… just seeing things i have never seen before.
What followed was a spectacular 33 days of family and friends, great adventures and of course excellent culinary moments. Things i will never forget..
Because when it is all said and done, it is only great adventures that we will be remembering.
(wrote on 12-16-2010)
Here I am in Florence, once again.
Maybe it’s the familiarity of these people walking the streets, yelling, laughing, stopping for an espresso here and there. Italians always seem too busy to work. I love it. It doesn’t matter whether you are on time, or you have a delivery to make; there is always time for the latest gossips at the local Café’ with your long-time friends.
Maybe, it’s the beauty of this never changing landscape. The ‘Old Bridge’ with its gold shops, the ‘Piazzale Michelangelo’ with its city views, the ‘Uffizzi’ with its long lines and outstanding art, the ‘Duomo’, ‘Palazzo Vecchio’, and of course, the ‘David’.
Or maybe it’ s the smells of the little streets, the chaos of vespas going by honking to improbable tourists crossing the roads, the church bells going off, the street vendors selling roasted chestnuts, the pungent cold, the comfort of a hot chocolate, the relax of an ‘aperitivo’ with friends, the taste of a ‘Fiorentina Steak’, the buses never on time, the constant complaining.
Maybe, just maybe, it is this rare blanket of snow covering, like a heavy dust of sugar, the whole city. The street lights looking out of focus, the unbelievable silent creating a much more magical atmosphere. Maybe, it is just ‘Il Dolce Far Niente’.
Whatever it is, I am here and a few tears of joy are running down my face.
It hardly seems like a year ago that, sitting down with my mom, I was planning the menu for Christmas dinner…. and our New Year’s Eve at the fort…. but it has been. A lot has happened in the past twelve months and a lot more is about to happen over the next year. I am even more incredulous if I think I moved to the United States six years ago.
To paraphrase an anonymous quote…We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose the time of our birth, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.
Long ago I learned that life is not one long “spectacular, glamorous event”… it is not one big party, or living on the crest of a wave. It is not about chasing instant gratification or eternal bliss….
It is about appreciating the special moments… the exquisite moments in life. Sadly… most people are usually too busy chasing the aforementioned to even notice them…let alone truly appreciate them. Yet… these are life’s real treasures. Those moments in time… the exquisite moments!
During an interview, a few months ago, i was asked where my inspiration for cooking and food comes from. The reality is that I discovered my passion for cooking as a young boy, inspired by my city, Florence, and my family’s love for food. Cooking is an on-going process. Every chef is a product of a place and a tradition. No matter where your suitcase of knives and pans take you, these things can always be sensed in your food.
Now, here in Florence..as the cold winter nights set in and daylight disappears early afternoon… there is a stillness, ispiring, Zen-like serenity which you simply can’t buy anywhere else. You may not want it of course…which I can understand, but if you do… then this is a blissful time indeed.
It’s time to be creative… to learn new things… to weave new dreams and to contemplate how to make insanely great things happen in the coming year ahead. So while you’re doing whatever this winter… if you happen to think about a young chef cooking, sipping on wine, dreaming & listening to his music by candlelight… send me a wave.