There is nothing more inspiring than an enthusiastic Italian. It’s been proved to me time and time again. A true enthusiastic Italian has the ability to project his/her excitement, to involve you, and in the end you will feel as passionate about the subject as they do. Furthermore they have the ability to seem genuinely interested in you and your wellbeing, you walk away feeling that you have made a new true friend. This is very much the case with Massimo Bottura. A warm and welcoming man with an enormous passion for food, art and life. The passion was reflected in a kind of boisterous behaviour, the kind of behaviour that us in Northern Europe have learned to control as it is of course not cool to show too much emotion and enthusiasm.
I had the pleasure of spending 3 days around the Modena area with Massimo and the editor of OFM, Allan Jenkins. A little road trip to soak up where his inspirations come from and to get a feel of his childhood district.
The greatest experience was of course to be able to dine at Massimo’s 3 star Micheline restaurant Osteria Francescana. His legendary dishes ‘5 ages of Parmesan’ and of course the world’s best Tortellini (undisputed) were like having ballerinas dancing on my tongue. But second to that experience was meeting a lady who has been working closely with Massimo since the beginning. An old lady who taught Massimo everything there is to know about traditional Italian cooking and helped keep him on the straight and narrow in those early days. We had listened to Massimo tell us of her importance in his life for hours before we were eventually brought to her house, a stones throw away from Massimo’s first restaurant. To witness the closeness, playfulness and the warmth between them was enough to give all of us goosebumps, and dare I say a tear in our eyes. A feeling of envy for the Mediterranean way of being where emotions are being worn on the sleeves and a warm hearted tickle is a friendly gesture that’s made between people of any age as a gesture of affection, on display for everyone to see.