When offering a bedroom to (more or less) beloved ones, some of us concentrate on pleasantries such as fresh linen and flowers, some others fill the fridge, vacuum the household and make sure everything looks better than ever: “oh, what a king, what a generous and wealthy human being do I have the honour to be hosted by” guests should declaim, walking out our door. Visiting family constitutes an intensification of this phenomenon, because all we have achieved in life, we feel the urge to slam it in our siblings’ faces - look how far have I come, you fools: I am no longer lil-Joe-with-a-lisp, I am now John Smith with a huge, sea view house with pool.
We need love, through appreciation, no matter how far we have gone in life.
Staging a perfect family, a gracious household, a wealthy environment where passion fruits multiply spontaneously, where wine is served without limitation and no one needs to work, really, is a human weakness that has a little to do with generosity. We love to put ourselves on a plinth, because we think of ourselves as worthy, different - if not superior. We need people to assist to our rise, to celebrate us as they should.
So, everything’s fine, ‘fantastico’, life is just fabulous, can’t you see?
Couples confess they make tantric love every other day after twenty years of marriage while some of us think oh boy, this year it actually happened twice. Stay home mothers drink like skunks because they miss a life away from their energy-sucking, wonderful bundles of love. Men give away patrimonies to unctuous brokers to finally end in the vip club: let me get those millions, and I will show you who I really am.
We have learnt to measure ourselves through what we can achieve economically, hence pretending we own more than we actually have it is a natural, consequential behaviour. Wealth shall be distributed according to charisma, we think, while working everyday for a regular salary has become shameful rather than honourable.
Problem is: pretending is exhausting, and continuously being projected in a dimension where we own a yacht, a condo, a driver and a butler whilst we can barely sustain the expense of some house help once a month will slowly take away energies, good feelings, vitality and all those elements that concur in making us, well, happy.
“How’s it going with you and your wife?” we ask when meeting disconsolate looking friends, hoping they can share some of their anecdotes with us. We all know how miserable and lonely even the best of relationships can be, sometimes, but acknowledging we are not alone on the misery planet sometimes can make a big difference. “Greater than ever” we hear as a response, and we then feel like our world is uglier and smaller than anybody else’s. We often discover it was quite the opposite, hence a “my marriage is desolating and nothing that I expected” would have been a better response, in terms of self-awareness, a first step towards change and a great sign of trust.
We all think we deserve the truth, but somehow we are resistant to unfold our own.
I do not hide any of my (many) miseries. Having already failed spectacularly in many departments including music, web-design and photography, I have quite a number of amusing stories to entertain guests at dinners with - and that’s when the interviewer came to my apartment for our final meeting and found me hung over and incapable to find my files in the computer, then left pretending he went to the bathroom, ladies and gentlemen.* Hard laughs follow.
People are invited to ours whilst we have no absolute conscience of what lies in the fridge and no knowledge of how many bedrooms are actually available for them to use. I have no interest in matching pillows with bed linen and do not consider table cloths a necessity, although I absolutely appreciate who does things properly, so my guests shall only visit if in search of true relaxation or if seriously passionate about some time with me, beyond prepping.
Around supper time people generally start looking for ingredients of any sort and wine: not once in twenty-five years of ‘conscious un-hosting’ have my guests and I remained hungry or, worse, thirsty. Gathering people under the same roof is pure happiness to me. It is about offering friends what’s available, including ourselves, the way it was before they arrived and hoping they’ll appreciate our ensemble as much as we love theirs.
Generosity is, to me, a symphony of truth and acceptance, certainly a concept as far as it can possibly be from a party of few collecting a lot for the ‘less fortunate’ - that is charity in fact, and no poor is allowed to the table. It’s indeed an empowering position that of a giver, a privileged chance to bind people with gratitude, however, being a generous human being is more about showing others you are as bad as they are, at the very least. I have learnt gratitude often preludes to resentment.
Making sure that people you care for will leave your house thinking they live a much better, happier life than yours instead of feeling overwhelmed with your good luck and possessions is a great act of politeness. It actually takes quite a dose of emotional intelligence to be able to remain quiet when somebody gives you hints on how to improve your (secretly blossoming) business or your (fantasticly happening) relationship, but there you go: it is a magnificent life the one where everybody thinks they are necessary to you, where others loves you for what you are and not for what you can supply to them.
So people arrive to ours carrying bottles of wine just in case, they cook, they feel like they are necessary actors to the show and leave when they feel like it. They know no one is going to ask them if they’d like a coffee in the morning, but a true smile and unlimited hearing will never be denied.
We, those who do not feel being thanked is extremely important, love ingredients rather than decorations, we recognise and feel (or don’t) a true passion beyond slogans: we desire to get the essence of things because we too feel our ‘core’ shall not be mystified.
I have discovered Mimmo Il Paninaro (Mimmo the Panini Maker) on my way back from a gig in Lucca, Tuscany. We have played our hearts out, as all of us un-successful musicians do to compensate the fact we didn’t make it, and we have found ourselves drained, terribly hungry at 2 am. We have seen and followed the light: Mimmo delivers on a food truck with a huge illuminated sign, so there you go. His reign, the Omino Panino’s generous heaven for the late ones, is the parking area close to the train station of Pescia, a destination for the happy nighters, a Graceland for the gluttonous, has opened arms and buns for us.
We are now slaves to the panino with melt-in-your-mouth Porchetta together with neapolitan greens, the friarelli. We are newly devoted fans of the calabrese chilly sausage, the nduja, as well as the multi-layered hamburgers: we have embraced the cult of the savoury, fatty, and boneless pork roast done the Mimmo’s way. Yes, you do eat it with your hands. Yes, you do sit down on the sidewalk, sip a Laurent Perrier was a complete joke and feel absolutely content. So, that’s how I want to be, we think devouring a delicious work of art riding all your senses like weaves, content.
Hail to Mimmo, king of the street food in generous portions that makes us feel loved and appreciated with no emotional attachments to follow. Stop by this truck if you think that life doesn’t get better than being frank and, of course, if you love fantastic food.
The next appointment is for the 1st of November.
All pictures belong to Mimmo’s Facebook page