Reflections in front of sweet-spicy octopus with dark chocolate

by Rosanna Ferraro 07/12/17
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Riflessioni davanti al Polpo dolce forte al cioccolato da Umberto a Mare

The Umberto a Mare restaurant in Forio d’Ischia is a place where a small portion of a professionally prepared dish can bring back emotions and sensations to somehow justify the trials of daily life. 

I like to eat alone because sometimes it not just about the food. I like going to restaurants to have dishes created to nurture the soul and not just the body . And I like the emotions the food gives me without being forced to talk, to share, to smile or discuss or, what’s worse, entertain.

There is a time for everything and this is a moment I reserve for myself, with respect towards the result of a thought, the work of someone who doesn’t even know me but who wants to give me something of themselves. And I reserve the right to take my time to best appreciate the dish in front of me and the composition of the ingredients that are connected by an idea before the palate. Then I try to imagine the flavor of what is before me before it reaches my mouth.

 

 

Because it is not just about the food. 

Some dishes offer the pleasure of involving emotions mixed in with memories or dreams. The culture of contemplation, of being in touch with oneself and all those forms of internalizing that the fast rhythm of life risks sweeping away here can find a place and a path in the synthesis of a few grams of food that speak to all the senses.

At this particular moment I am contemplating the yellow of a portion of squash that shines under a veil of oil and is ready to concede all its sweetness, the bright green of a chili pepper that will give me a shock with its bitter notes, the brick red of the slices radish which seem to have fallen like petals on the top of an octopus that was fished from the rocks, the same ones that are breaking the waves beneath this terrace built over the water.

 

 

Because a dish like this has a voice of its own. 

Here the sea calls out and connects with the creature that lies in my plate. And one must have respect for those discs of octopus that seem to swim amid the vegetables and seek out the shards of dark chocolate that appear to be playing hide-and-seek. But in the end everything gets captured by fork with no chance of getting away from this natural hunter.

It is a game that is serious yet fun and although it takes place every evening, it is too often drowned out by noisy tables and distracted patrons, couples that are coming together and those that are falling apart, drying their tears on their napkins.

The truth is that a dish like this should be enjoyed with respectful concentration because it is so different from everyday food that is often too trite and commonplace. Because when it reaches the palate, that small, professionally prepared nibble confirms my expectations and makes me happy. The crispiness of the ingredients comes together in my mouth and my palate cannot resist the fusion between the fruits of the land, sea and nature.

Because it is not just about the food. 

It is magic and must be respected as such. It is culture and memory. It is a stimulus to rediscover emotions that pass through the senses and give meaning to daily life. Bite after bite become the pages of a book with words that will forever be remembered and become part of my memory.

And when it is over it is like a finished book, the end of a good story, an empty plate that leaves one with a sense of nostalgia. Each one of us is alone when they are in the company of their feelings. This is why I like to eat alone.





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