This post is all about clarifying or better investigating who I am and what I am doing here in the food world; you can call it a self-improvement experiment.
We are only given rare blissful moments of clear inner vision, when thoughts start flying around our minds like doves at the sound of Sunday bells. Unfortunately, those Silicon Valley geniuses haven't yet invented an interface that would allow the transfer of these sparkles onto "paper". Yes, we could speak those words aloud to a recorder but Heisenberg's principle would hit on us. Observation of a phenomenon will irremediably influence it and that clear insight will become muddled by the social rules of communication. Then it might be worthy to resort to a stream of consciousness. I fear though that in this context a patchwork of sentences, for how beautiful and meaningful they might be, could result too hermetic; I will have then to edit what comes out (rather heavily I suppose).
The framing of oneself is always a process in fieri. Daily experiences, inspirations, desires and decisions continuously shed new light on our souls, on our place in society and eventually on our call.
I believe that in our society we are blessed by the many possible directions we can easily give to our lives at any given moment in time. For our ancestors instead, these choices were often limited by their social extractions, regionality, physical constitution etc.
The reduced amount of stimulus in those years might as well have triggered the listening to the inner voice sooner in life and in a more continuous way; making the choice of the right path clearer.
On the other side, from our generation onward we are having the opportunity to travel, share experiences, enrich our factual background so to give our choices more solid foundations. It is not easy though to calm down all the background noise in our heads; the inputs from the outer world and their reverberations on our neural network. Changes in career are then becoming more and more common (caused also by the despicable work-market's dynamics).
It was near the peak of my university studies when frustration set in. At the blackboard, during one of the exams defining my studies, I couldn't answer simple, stupid but fundamental questions. That wasn't me.
I must admit that I always had the luck to choose my way, to follow what seemed more right to me.
When I moved to Florence to study Physics, it was because the city somehow called me and this discipline answered more readily the yearning for knowledge that I was developing. Despite the growing frustration, all went on as planned; studying the world around me through the magnifying glass of science was very fascinating.
Taking care of everyday life slowly put me in contact with the world of food and cooking. This was also the most straightforward way to share a moment of relax and to fill in a social need present in my household. Naturally, growing up in Sicily food wasn't foreign to me; it was simply taken for granted. Many people do so, especially when they grow up in food rich cultures.
When I finally obtained my master degree it was time to follow up with a PhD and so I decided to move abroad, to Germany. Once in a new context, with new friends and a new life to define; the inner voice felt its cage growing tighter.
It took me still some years to finally realize or better recognize the call.
Inertia is one of Nature's major pillars and our society is no different. As a result of this, a change in direction is not often seen with a good eye, perceived rather as a failure, a matter for gossiping and indirect backstabbing; if it wasn't already enough to lose your sleep in the process of lowering your defences in acceptance of this illumination.
The social bubble soon started swallowing me more and more. The contact with new cultures and nationalities acted as a great catalyst for my curiosity. Every occasion was right to call for a pot-luck party. Worthless to say that the buffet was always overflowing with delicious creations: Indian, Chinese, Italian, German, you name it; we had them all. There were occasions when in the same room up to 5 different languages were spoken simultaneously, many of us often switching between some of them when needed. The atmosphere was fervid, charged of joy of living and passion.
Then, there was my job; the egoistic pleasure of scientific research.
The occasional inquiry from friends or acquaintances for the social role of what I was doing, often left me wondering; being unable to give a convincing answer. This was the first alert sign, even though I didn't recognize it as such at first.
The sense of unease and unfulfillment slowly grew stronger in me. The fear of a change, a big one, blinded me at such a level that I couldn't even see right under my nose. Again a friend grabbed me from the bottom of this pit and helped me on the way out.
Realising that cooking wasn't at odds with my past life-plans was all that I needed. I didn't want to have wasted all these years as much as I don't want to waste the future.
Science and cooking are like water and fire for most Italians. How could you regulate, predict, encase in schemes what comes from the heart and hands of your beloved mamma? Still, cooking is a direct application of science.
What I had acquired in many years of studies was then useful, moreover I came to realise that it was needed! I have finally found a way to be creative and scientific at the same time; my brain got high on endorphins that day. In the process, I have also found a language that was fit with this background, with my frame of mind.
Naturally the way in front of me isn't easy but the social revenues for all the efforts are magnificent. I have instantaneously loved the sense of fulfilment coming from a dining room falling into silence whenever an unusual dish (you do know my cuisine, right?) was served; that moment of suspense between diffidence, curiosity and delight. That was the adrenaline I craved!
The sense of usefulness, the ability of stirring such an emotional reaction gives me the motivation and joy that since long were deeply missed.
Destiny has mysterious way. I have finally found my call.
Food and science, creativity and constraints, pleasure and reason, Aries and Cancer; that's me!