Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Embracing Your Inner Italian

You’ve visited Italy a time or two. Perhaps you’ve even lived there for a moment. Long enough to get a sense that something was tugging on you. And then you go back to your normal life. One night you wake up in your place and you look around. You’re alone. There is no sound of five Italians talking at the same time. Except in your head. You go to the kitchen. The bowl of fresh fruit is missing. Open the fridge. No Sicilian orange juice. A bottle of California Chardonnay stands in the corner, half empty. What are you going to do with your life?

That tugging feeling persists as you make a cup of coffee. It’s 5:15 in the morning; somewhere in Italy someone is having a plate of fritto misto with a bottle of Sannio or Campi Felgrei. Somewhere a group of loud, happy, boisterous Italians are extending their Pasquetta celebration with a plate of strufoli or tarallucci dolci and a sip of Moscato from Benevento. Followed by further sips of home made limoncello. And then you look into your cup of dark, bitter coffee, missing all that life you would never see in that way again.


You might have come back from Italy to this place you call home. But inside a little bird was singing, “never let you go, never let you go.” You were hooked.

So how will you remake the life you found in Italy, back home? Let me tell you a secret. You already have. There’s no going back to hot dogs and shiraz, you have been stung by the arrow of Bacchus. And as one of those chosen to carry the message of the Ancients, forget explaining it to those around you. Press forward.

I was having dinner with my son on Easter. He said, “I have come to that point in my life where I realize I have to specialize.” Those words both scared me and also signaled that he had arrived at a point where he has found something he loves. He wants to carve that stone into something grand and beautiful.

With Italian wines, that rock is marble. And inside are the whirling tarantellas of your story. All you have to do is set about chipping away, to release those spirits.

Can you do this with other wines from other countries? Sure you can. Folks left Italy during the Renaissance to discover a land we now call America. There will always be people interested in those things. But the hook is set with some of us, with regards to things Italian, and it is set deep. Thousands of years deep.

I can always enjoy a California wine, very easy when I am back home there. It is an extension of that Mediterranean lifestyle, but in a uniquely California way. I have sat at the edge of Lake Taupo in New Zealand and enjoyed the wine and food of that land. I could imagine that kind of situation in many places, Argentina, South Africa, and even little old Texas. But if you’re pulled out of Lago di Avernus or Trasimeno, or some smoky Sicilian caldera, you are compelled to follow your destiny. Or in the lingo of today, “you’re set for specialization.”

So why not embrace your inner Italian, that little canary in your coal mine? You don’t have to shout it out like a mockingbird or a screech owl. It can be a little chirp at a time. But feed it and watch it grow into a life Italian, that years down the road you will thank your lucky stars you were fortunate enough to be picked out of the primordial soup to carry on the work of the gods.





5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ciao Alfonso,

Almost 5 years ago I went to Siena for two weeks with a group of Americans and Canadians. The group was meeting in Italy to discuss the Divine Comedy. Prior to the trip to Siena, I spent one year in another class reading and discussing The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon. I guess I was predisposed to appreciate an actual visit to Italy, but that trip really turned my life around. I have spent the last 5 years studying the Italian language, Italian art, and developing an appreciation for Italian cuisine. No other country in the world has captured my interest like Italy.

Tommaso

Marco said...

Thanks for this reminder. In American suburbia, this is vital. From here on in, I'll try to nurture my inner Lampedusa.

Italian Wine Guy® said...

Thanks gents...AC

Anonymous said...

Uber-Blogger Rod Dreher linked post on his blog here:
http://tinyurl.com/2zkmcl

Susannah said...

Thanks to Tracie B, I found this post that I missed. Never a truer description. The primordial gods...wow. It's amazing to read someone describe something you feel so intimately.. BRAVO, ancora.

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