TELL ME WHAT YOU COOK
AND I’LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE

Published on 13 March 2018 in Meson’s Blog

From the “THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EVERYDAY THINGS” section of our Meson’s News Magazine number 5.

If you never want to feel embarrassed again, when faced with a beautiful design object that you don’t know how to use, finally someone explains that the problem is not you, but is the designer who designed it. The title of this section is a tribute to Donald A. Norman’s who wrote “The Psychology of Everyday Things”, that in the mid 90’s and has helped many people getting rid of this nightmare. Each object can be relatively useful or useless, a design object, however, to be called such, must always be functional.

TELL ME WHAT YOU COOK AND I’LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE

And that is how my It all started in this way, she knew how to tempt me! Because every relationship begins in some way: some start from the classroom or at the su-permarket, at the bar or disco, others begin between the desks, others on the web; then there are the relationships that “depart” from airports or railway stations, when people travel and are sympathetic to meet each other. There are also relationships which strangely begin inside the home, in the most common place to all: the kitchen.

And that’s how my relationship began, with spaghetti al dente, black olives, cherry tomatoes, onion blanched in milk and fresh basil; because the onion blanched in milk loses its acidity and doesn’t gener-ate gastric reflux, I learned it that day in June. How much you can guess the character of a person when you see it at work in the kitchen! For me it is as if it would lay bare: there are those who observe detail, and who the sub-stance, there are those who never slip up from a recipe and who reinvents everything, there are some who cook only with precise ingredients and who instead improvise with what one finds in the refrigerator and its only important ingredient is good oil. Tell me what you cook and I’ll tell you who you are, then!

When the real aim of the realization of a dish is to feed themselves, a family, a friend, a son or a partner, self-educated men and women took the field

When the real aim of the realization of a dish is to feed themselves, a family, a friend, a son or a partner, self-educated men and women took the field, all persons who in turn in their home kitchens learned or unlearned the art of cooking. Because it serves love to nourish. Although one of the most important relationships of my life started in the kitchen and in some ways has evolved and consolidated in the same environment, between one taste and the other, I believe that sooner or later, whatever happens, most of the relations pass through a small or large table, full of food or very simple. Always, in every culture and social class, the food was the vehicle of relationships, of propi-tiatory or commercial thanksgiving rites. Sitting at the table people was selling, buying, got married, declared war or toasted to peace. Once, in poor families in the countryside, when a pilgrim was passing, he was welcomed at home and people gave him a hot meal in ex-change for stories.

Relationships are exchange: the more people and cultures are different, the more exchange can be difficult but rich. My Japanese friends, for example, sitting at the table in front of a spaghetti soup, use to make noise in sucking them: for them is a sign of approval, while for us it is just disgusting!
How many things we can know and learn deepening our relationships at the table … not only the flavours and combinations or the uses and customs of a people. We discover the people behind such a simple dish prepared with patience and love or even with hasty cure. Originality, intuition, superficiality, wisdom or ignorance: from one dish you can understand everything.

If these are the conditions, it is very important to design the kitchen well, since it becomes the “container” of our relationships. Whenever possible, we choose an open space that connects the kitchen corner with the living area: cooking being able to interact with children, partner or friends who are waiting for a taste or sipping an aperitif, will be more pleasant than cooking looking at a wall. Where the space is generous and allows us to do it, we opt to provide meters to the sharing areas, thinking perhaps to an island unit with breakfast bar where mixing long talks with a good Gin Tonic, or leaving a free central space in a large table so that you can add seats at the table with frequency and without embarrassment. Even the decoration of the kitchen can become important and functional for the diet. It has been reported by several feeding studies that there are accessories that can induce, inhibit or damage our meals.

Inducing: do you have children lacking appetite, or are you often listless in cooking? Enrich your kitchen with beautiful images of appetizing foods that make you mouth water, place some nice containers of transparent glass filled with dried fruit, almonds, shelled walnuts and dates, easy to consume and delicious, beside a beautiful table centrepiece full of citrus fruits, bananas and grapes.

Inhibiting: are you in low-calorie diet or anyone in your family needs to lose weight? Deco-rate your dining area with beautiful and positive images! Sea, water, vegetables, anything that can recall wellness and health; sticks to the fridge some of your beautiful photos (with a few pounds less) and some phrases that motivate you not to transgress or that serve as a de-terrent. Enrich your worktop with fresh celery stalks washed and ready to use: they are beau-tiful, they give colour and are easy to consume during the day. Create a small “green area” in the kitchen with aromatic, fragrant and live plants.

Damaging: the presence of the TV on when you are at the table seems to be, not only little recommended for the purpose of family communication, but in some cases even harmful for the digestion and assimilation of food. Savour a dish cooked with healthy products while watching a scene of war on the news, seems to put in deep crisis our emotional nervous system through the use of two senses that feel contrasting experiences: on the one hand with the “TASTE” you are trying a great feeling of “life” and on the other with the “VIEW” you feel feelings of sadness and “death”.
These two conflicting feelings generate friction within us, since the brain registers them in a negative way. My advice is to keep out the TV from the dining area or at least not to turn it on during the meals, especially avoiding that children do not watch it while they are eating. Let’s choose to create a serene, clean and functional environment in our kitchen, where carefully prepare and happily consume the food for us and for the people we love.

If one day you should doubt not to digest the Tropea red onion, blanch it for a few minutes in milk: it will become hot, crispy and tasty!