Monday, I have been starting my sixth week of work inactivity linked to Covid-19.
First the consulting projects were postponed, then the courses cancelled and finally the caterings put on hold.
The first 2 weeks the virus hit Milan area, I tried to invent myself new ways of doing business, spending hours in brainstorming with myself and providing more stress to my body than financial benefits to my wallet.
In a second period, I used the opportunity to start crossing all the stuffs I had on “my to do” for months, and always pushing back to later.
I soon understand that some points on that list would be always postponed, and this is when I started procrastibaking…
I am hyper, love cooking and can’t stay a minute without learning something new. So how could it not end like this? Have you ever reached mindfulness while baking?
I started with regular meals and pies, but it was not enough time “filling”.
So I thought adding something new to my daily routine.
Being 30km away from Milan, I could not get the sourdough bread I love, so I decided to do mine. Easy, you would say. Well, not that much when you decide that you want to work your dough with a 80% moisture rate and create specific drawings on the crust using stencils, cutter and flour contrast.
Though, I have been doing periodic consulting for Davide Longoni Bakery for more than 3 years now. I spent hours in the lab, observing gestures and even participated on a few occasions. I worked as well on bread recipes and enhancing production. On the theoretical part I felt a minimum ready. So I immediately set high goals. I went on Amazon (god bless Amazon) to order the strictly necessary tools; and started my journey, even if I did not have yet the right flours and the starter ready.
The benefits of baking got transformed soon into an obsession. An obsession of producing a bread at the level of my expectations, and above all PERFECT. This obsession got paired with frustration: how can you get limited by your own consumption to bake, if you want to make progress fast?
If I had no aversion for food waste, I would have baked every day, even twice a day. Soon, in parallel to the baking process, I started to study even more, to make "awesome" bread immediately.
Meanwhile my daily routine changed. I had to incorporate the time for the bread steps. Making good bread is time consuming, but at the end, wasn’t the whole objective?
Surprisingly, I started seeing my days not enough long for my new “to do” list.
I was losing again the benefit of cooking to be in the present, and was thinking about achievements...
In my daily routine I had also incorporated a 10’min meditation. I have been following this program on stress management where they were asking you to repeat out loud: “The result is not important, the process is.” “Perfection is an illusion.” “ I do only one thing at a time.”
WTF. Were they kidding me?
So I started wondering why reaching the perfect bread was so important to me? When at the opposite, during those days, everyone thinks to be a chef on Instagram.
I’ve never seen so many directs of people sharing their recipes and teaching as if they were expert cooks. But if you had the occasion to see the results, most of the time, would have been better not sharing… Have you paid attention to all the Instagram pizzas during the weekend? An entire country reconnecting, or should I say connecting, to the kitchen and proud of baking its own pizza. People that were doing the "foodbloggers", reviewing hardly some restaurants and now in a biased move, thinking they did some piece of art. One of the teacher of the Genius Academy invented the sarcastic hashtag #oggicucinomaleio meaning " today I'm the one cooking badly".
So how comes that some people get confident enough to feel the new chefs of the time and me, I got frustrated by the non perfection of my bread? When baking stops being a mindfulness process to switch to a result oriented process?
On the other hand, chefs went a step back (or further) on the perfection/innovation quest: during those quarantine days, you can see chefs at home, cooking simple/traditional dishes for their family. They try to appear normal, humble.
The line between chefs and “regular” people cooking for their family becomes subtle.
In a world where the chefs became over-mediatized and reached the fame of the best football players, I believe this is a good thing.
Sometimes, when food becomes your “work”, you forget the essence of food itself as a process of nurturing others. Food bonds people and there is nothing more satisfactory than seeing someone happy while eating the food you prepared. We should not waste this bond thinking about the fact the dish was not perfect towards our own expectations. Enhancing is good, but should occur after the process of enjoying.
At the end, everything is about processing time.
Cooking/baking is a science, and in our liquid society, we tend to forget that it takes time to learn how to realize new things. Can you imagine how many breads will touch a baker before realizing the almost perfect bread?
All I want to say is, I hope that the people a bit like me, won’t get overwhelmed by their old mechanisms coming back too quickly, and will keep slow down during this period.
For my case I will keep studying tutorials to see how to get the perfect result: estheticism, shape, crust, honeycomb structure, fragrance. At the end, I don’t have that much choice since my starter is not ready yet and yeast is in backorder in all supermarkets….
And, Marghe, Pizzium, Capuano's, Cocciuto, Da Zero, be prepared to receive CVs from people that decided to quit their office job after this quarantine.