Scrivere e cucinare

Back in the early 1970s, when I was teaching in California, I had a colleague named Bob Williams who taught fiction writing and was famous for beginning each semester with a lecture on the art of cooking. He'd tell his students, for example, how to prepare a dish of sausages, onions, and peppers - elaborately describing how to chose the right frying pan, olive oil, and sausages, explaining next how they ought to be cooked till browned and then removed from the pan - so that the sliced onions, garlic and peppers, and whatever fresh herbs could be introduced in their own proper order - until he had the entire class salivating. The point, of course, was not just to stimulate their appetites, but to show them the degree of love and devotion to the smallest detail required to turn this simple Italian dish, often poorly made, into a culinary masterpiece. Writing stories and poems was like that too, he told them. Instead of the ingredients he had just conjured, there would be words, experiences, and imaginings to combine. Actually, what he demonstrated to his students was the ancient relationship between cooking, eating well, and storytelling. Charles Simic sul nybooks.

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