a few months ago, i was teaching on a costa cruise ship and battling seasickness when a lovely woman approached me after a cooking class and introduced herself as chef mario batali's sister. she handed me a sheaf of papers and told me that i had been invited to be the guest chef at an italian festival in seattle. my first thought was to say yes because it was on solid ground and i would not be at the mercy of the waves of the ocean. i thanked her and told her i would check my schedule.
once home, i came across the papers and headed on over to the website of the festa and checked it out. after reading about this celebration of all things italian, i could not wait to say yes, yes, yes...or si, si, si, as my italian friend, elisabetta says.
well, many months later, i have just returned from working as the guest chef at this festa. i can honestly say that i have never had so much fun at an event in my life. not only well-run, this festa brought together the best of 'la dolce vita' and made it accessible to everyone interested in the experience of italian living.
as i worked at this event, amid thousands of italian people (and some non-italians, too...), i learned so much about my ancestry. i discovered why we behave the way we do, where our passion comes from, where our love of food comes from, why italians are as committed to great food as they are...why italian food is so delicious...why italians are so colorful and do what we do...and why people are so enchanted with italian food, wine and life.
i have always loved italian food for its simplicity...its commitment to natural, fresh ingredients and most important, the commitment italians have to eating together...i love being in italy and experiencing that commitment to the table.
this festa confirmed my belief that a truly good life begins in the kitchen and culminates at the table, where we learn everything from social skills to justice to grace. it's time for each of us to begin to honor that moment in our days...to go back into the kitchen, create delicious, simple food from natural, seasonal, fresh ingredients and dine with those we love around our tables.
so whether you are italian, wish you were or have nothing to do with italian living, get your butt in the kitchen and make dinner...or lunch...or whatever and sit and enjoy your own little slice of 'la dolce vita.