I used to be a passionate woman, well I used to have passions! In recent years though I have noticed that passion of any sort has gone out of my life.
I loved to make soft furnishings for the house, paint and decoupage furniture, cook new dishes every week, run the school PTA social club and spend happy hours at work organising year long training courses for hundreds of managers. But 2010 got in the way!
From that time life itself had become a coping strategy and one I wasn’t very good at. To those around me they perhaps saw someone doing ok, happy, content, friendly and beginning to have some fun but it was very easy for me to slip behind the dark velvet curtain of misery and feel ‘nothing’ nothing good and nothing bad.
However last week I had the pleasure of spending the middle week of a 3 week trip to Italy at a cooking school just outside the little fishing town of Mola di Bari in Puglia. I had a week in the company of Rita the owner of the school and the Masseria della sole where it was held and I also stayed. She is like me fat and over 50 and on her own but her passion for her area, the history and the cuisine became more and more apparent. Although many dishes are ancient many are also comparatively new as in the early part of the 20th century there was little surface water so the area was somewhat arid – but in the 1950s a geologist realised the potential of the bedrock of the region and eventually found huge underground reserves of water transforming the whole area into basically a kitchen garden of fruit and vegetables!
So on Monday the classes started and dish after dish of marvellous food was demonstrated, copied, cooked and eaten with gusto often late into the night.
Last Saturday there was a celebration for the 40th birthday for a local lady and Rita and her team started cooking the evening before and were back at it at 7 the next morning. The main lady was called Vittoria who toiled for hours making bread and pasta, desserts and anti pasti – her pizza rustica dolce salata were a joy to behold and you could see that she loved her work. She had also cleaned the guest rooms every day and washed the bedding etc whilst Rita and I were cooking.
However on Saturday night at midnight whilst the party was going strong (another 3 hours to go) and Isabella was cooking sausage and chips for the children – yep at midnight! and Vittoria was bringing yet another batch of food out of the oven that her favourite music filtered in from the disco and she kicked up her heels and danced around the kitchen. Heels that had already spent more than 18 hours without any break I saw!
Vittoria simply loves life, she has a complicated and sad back story but she still has passion for life for food for dancing! As I threw my head and laughed and joined in the dance I gave myself permission to steal a little from Vittoria’s passion tree and start growing one of my own.
It’s a nice feeling and I’m looking forward to the fruits of my labour