There was once a very popular and entertaining commedy in Italy in which Roberto Benigni, transported into the past to around the end of the fifteenth century, realised that they could change future events by their actions in their new present. So they decided to stop Christopher Columbus embarking on the voyage that would lead to the discovery of America.
Their aim was clear: to create a future for us without jeans, without chewing gum, without pinball machines or jukeboxes, a peaceful life in step with tradition. Our comics forgot to mention that such a future would also be without potatoes, without tomatoes, without tobacco and without chocolate. Our traditions today would not be the same. But is my tradition, now is part of my identity. Fortunately people start mo move since the beginning of the history, moving and changing their minds or infiltrating new concepts and new ways to conceive the world. Nevertheless most people think so individualistic and nationalistic, as life were an endless football game. Life is a story, is the present chapter of the story of mankind and as any story is written together, by the author and by the audience, a story is what stay inside you when somebody tells, so any story is a real concrete conceptual strong interaction between people. I would like to propose the story of mankind from an unusual point of view.
Agriculture, for example, is a story. First mankind collected the food that fell to the ground, then he pulled it from the trees, continuously on the move in the search for new sources and better climates in which to live. It’s easy to say then he started to cultivate, a simple word but a complex process! To cultivate something, it is necessary to remain in the same place to wait for what is sown to grow, and this was contrary to the customs of our ancestors, they had to decide to live in communities, divide the work and assign different tasks to each person, they had to organise, they had to experiment, make mistakes, memorise, communicate to someone else what they had discovered when either succeeding or failing. Here’s the first magic word: discovering. Mankind had begun to discover and has never ceased to do so. Agriculture was not just another step in the history of mankind, it was a Copernican revolution in the way of thinking about life on earth and a decisive factor in mankind’s evolution, in which the need for the abstract thinking that separates humans from other species was inherent. From a modern perspective, it is also a way of representing our civilisation and our collective memory.
The kitchen is the home of the story, the hearth is that of memory. Stories told around the fire are called “storie de fogu” in Sardinia, those stories in which the imagination is woven together with the ancient traditions and rituals that embody ways of conduct, principles for life, rules on which to base everyday actions, in a word, culture. Culture that evolves, changes, adapts, creates and transmits, protects, guides, gives flavour to life, when people migrate and cultures are mixed together, leaving indelible traces in the new civilisations they build. It is just as well that America was discovered, since even the pizza, that most Mediterranean of products, contains an ingredient of American origin that, if we had not discovered that land, would not today exist. All Mediterranean civilisation can therefore be told through the discovery and combination of different ingredients, because it is the story of migrating peoples, of happy contamination starting from the Phoenician princess who, riding a divine bull, migrated over the seas to give her name to an entire continent. That princess was called Europe. We still call her that today, not a princess but a continent that was able to transform itself in a country and then in a mental status.