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WRITING IN PENCIL
I have always enjoyed writing in pencil. I like the light stroke, the subtle line and the scent of graphite on paper. I take pleasure in being forced to slow down and consider your words. Each tremor or hesitation is not only seen but heard, as each letter is laid upon the page, furtively becoming part of the paper as well as part of something greater.
This period of Lent inevitably leads us not only to a state of isolation, fear, and fasting but also one of hope and desire. Nothing is taken for granted and everything acquires a deeper significance. Every single gesture is a gift that we feel the desire to cherish as a community.
Each one of us is experiencing a sort of fermentation that will inevitably lead us to transform ourselves into stronger, more unique, more alive beings, highlighting our inner potential and strengths, exactly as must turns into wine. Through fermentation, in fact, different microorganisms, thanks to particular metabolic processes, obtain energy from specific organic molecules. The ancient Greek philosophers defined fermentation by comparing it to a process in the making, the transformation of something destined to change into something better, of higher quality. The Arabs conducted extensive research into fermentation, the elixir and the philosopher's stone that could change metal into gold. The Latin word "fermentum," in fact, translates into “al-iksir” or “elixir” and “spirit” in Arabic.
To understand what the culinary world will look like at the end of this pandemic, we must first understand how we will look like ourselves, how we will be, and I believe we will be better.
After fasting for a long time, flavors are more intense, as if the act of waiting actually drew them out from places where we didn’t know they were hidden. How will your first real espresso taste? Will we finally realize the distance that separates a proper espresso from those capsules that emit that frothy soup full of emptiness? I have a feeling that we will: we will extract the best life has to offer with greater awareness; we will recognize the authentic because we would like to be a part of it. It will be a necessity.
Our industry suffered one of the most ferocious blows: we went from restaurants on every corner to the almost complete closure of professional kitchens, the only concession being food delivery, not from the TV but to your door, at a safe distance, yes, but something material, real and concrete.
Pane al pane, or “let’s call bread, bread,” (the Italian for calling a spade a spade has to do with food) because that's what will have to happen. To the extent in which the government will support our businesses, we will be able to return to work in less time, trusting in the salvation of all. The stakes are high, but if we are rightly supported, if we share the same goals and if we remain united, we will survive. Much will also depend on the regulations and measures of the individual regions in Italy which, if they act in accordance with a common plan, will favor our joint success.
We will witness a phenomenon of "Italianization" or “nationalization” in which each of us will spend, at least in at first, our time and resources within the borders of our countries, generating growth and circulating values. This phenomenon is an extraordinary opportunity to put more life back into our cities, our crafts, our ingredients and to draw from a clientele capable of loving and respecting beauty.
We will learn not to exploit our country by enriching it with content and preserving its assets with honor. We will become the custodians of our land and our culture, more than ever ready to make it known, but with respect for the values we have acquired.
The sense of hospitality will be measured in sincerity (not in performance) and in the authenticity of an honest welcome of those who love to receive and serve others.
There will no longer be room for aggression, envy and unnecessary feelings, because we will need each other as in a real family. It will be necessary to build supply chains of exchange between breeders, fishermen, farmers, peasants, artisans, cooks, in order to create increasingly virtuous collaborations.
Much of this will depend on supportive actions and a wise, honest and conscious recovery plan. We have the task of expressing joy and solidarity to our colleagues, to our guests, but first of all to ourselves.
For a long time, the world has operated with a sick economy. Today, we have been forced to slow down, we are learning that running without a goal means burning unnecessary energy and losing our way. We have been given the great opportunity to slow down in order to become aware of the value of our choices and understand that the economy is healthy and virtuous only if we respect one another.
It doesn't matter what we will do, but how we will do it; the sense of our actions will have much more value if we consider others as friends to be cherished. Savoring the present to understand the past and prepare for the future is fundamental today, more than ever before.
It’s time to give dignity to our profession that has long been defaced by toxic thinking. We will emerge united by professionalism and respect, moving beyond individualism to the privilege of a common good. To the extent that we respect others, we will respect ourselves.
If each of us does his part, a happier nation will emerge, if only because we have given our children the chance to dream again.