Monday, October 4, 2010



My dear friend Khan Duong of iKhanh Studio (It is worth your time to check out his photos.) posted this video on his Facebook page the other day.

Khanh gets it. Here is what he said in response to the video:

Beautifully executed visual and music combo..Reminds me of "Koyaanisqatsi"

In the Hopi language, the word Koyaanisqatsi
means "crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life
disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living".

Yep. That sounds about right. I think that not enough of the rest of us "get it." The people I'm meeting here in Italy get it. Maybe Italians in general just get it! (I'm starting to think this.) I also think I'm beginning to get it. I had an amazing day yesterday and I'd like to share some of what it taught me. I spent the day driving up to a little village called Sampeyre in Italy. Then we drove up into the foggy, chilly mountains high above the village to the home of Quinto, an amazing cheese maker. It made me think to myself that if more people would only take the time to invite friends and family over for a meal more often, take the time to create that meal with love and care from ingredients raised, grown with love and care, that the world would be a much different, better place. Yes. Yes, that sounds totally cheesy. I know it. I don't care.

Here is how we spent our day:

We got up early and had our caffé and biscotti and left the house at 9:30.
We stopped at a great little bar on the way for an aperitivo at around 11:30
We stopped in 2 adorable little mountain villages and bought some incredible gnocchi-like noodles to serve later and some bread, stumbled upon a small event in a square with a brass band. We listened to all kinds of music in the car and laughed and told stories and jokes the whole way (about 2.5-3hours all told.) It seemed like half an hour!

We arrived at our destination at around 1pm and were greeted by Diana and Orso the sweet cattle dogs, a couple of hunters and our dear host Quinto who makes very literally the best cheese and butter I have ever tasted.

We started off with some artisanal salumi and Quinto's delicious cheeses and butter with the bread we just picked up an hour before. Wine of course! Started off with Armonia from La Bruna a delicious, light dolcetto. Lots of stories, laughing, talking, eating, drinking and general merriment.

After this we dug into the delicious beef and potatoes Quinto had been cooking all morning. We got into the San Luigi DOCG dolcetto di Dogliani 2007 from La Bruna for this one. Medium body and delicious. Perfect with the beef! Delicious! More stories, more joking and laughing. Some cookies for dessert with caffè corretto. Then off for a nice walk with Quinto, my new friend Nadia and the cattle dogs Diana and Orso to find his happy Alpine milk cows.

We found them:

Talk about happy cows... the cheese and butter from these glorious beasts is incomparable.

After our walk, we came back and somehow managed to eat even more! This time some spaghetti with salumi, white wine, shaved parmesean and a little bit of tomato. Simple and perfect. More bread, more cheese, more wine. Now the Luigina from La Bruna a nearly opaque blend of barbera, merlot and nebbiolo and sublime with the salumi and strong cheeses.

This is when the real fun began! After dinner we pulled out the digestivo and the harmonica! Yes, NOW it's a party! Turns out that Bruno and Quinto are fantastic singers and harmonica players! Not the time to forget the video camera! And NOT the time for the camera battery to die. But, you know... sometimes these things happen. Sigh... You'll have to take my word for it that there was a lot of laughing and carrying on!

What is my point with all of this? I mean, sure... it is fun; the food is inspired; the wines are delicious. But what am I getting at? I'm getting at slowing down, at taking time, at change of pace and venue, at sanity, balance and a better way of living. Can we do this every day? Probably not. But I'd like to encourage you to do this:

Invite your family and friends to your home often. MAKE TIME FOR THIS on a REGULAR basis. This is what life is for as far as I'm concerned---to share sweet moments together. And really, most of them are sweet if you think about it. If you are really THERE for it. Invite your friends, family, even strangers into your home, into your life, into your heart. I think this could change the world. Really. (Yes, there I go getting all cheesy again.) Try spending a little less time in front of the tv, a little less time complaining, thinking about useless arguments, or busying yourself with unproductive pastimes.

Pick up a cookbook. Go to your grandmother's house. Invite your sisters over, your best friends, some coworkers, a stranger. Leave your door open (haha depending on your neighborhood of course!) Set an extra place at your table (you never know who might pop in.) Cook together; eat and drink together; laugh and sing and be silly together. Spend a long day/evening together. I think you might be amazed at the restorative effect this will have on everyone it touches---simple but profound effects---a few more subtle smiles on the faces and in the hearts of people throughout the day as they remember the good times around the table with the people they love best.

Now, run along, call your friends, your family and invite them over for some food, some wine, and really spend some time together. Take a walk, play some games, sing songs, be silly together, laugh and hug each other.