A Texan in Toscana (part 2): “Cooking from the heart.”
The following story comes from Chef Harvey’s memoir, “A Texan in Toscana” (for Part 1, click here).
As part of my externship at Ristorante il Pino in San Gimignano, the restaurant provided me with a small room above the kitchen. Each morning as I made my way down the stairs, I would hear the serious whacking of the sous chef’s meat cleaver as he hacked up the wild boar legs and shoulders. The aroma of roasting onions for stock, fresh baked bread, cappuccino brewing, and cantaloupe always accompanied this sound.
As I entered the kitchen and said my buon giornos, my sense of smell locked on to the sweet scent of the fresh cantaloupe. I was immediately overwhelmed by the flood of memories triggered by this familiar aroma. It wasn’t just the melon: it was a combination of aromas coming together in some sort of olfactory symphony. And it was playing my song.
I must have looked dazed as I stood in the kitchen trying to mentally process what was happening. In my mind, I saw my grandmother cutting up the cantaloupe, my grandfather bringing in a large ham from the smoke house. The coffee was percolating and the lid on a pot of beans was starting to dance up and down. I could smell the furniture in the farmhouse and hear the laughter of relatives and the clack of shuffling dominoes in the living room. I was transported back in time. There was a stirring in my heart and the voice in my head was saying, “welcome home.”
Then, for the first time in my culinary career, I actually grasped the true meaning of “cooking from the heart.” And that is what Siena Ristorante Toscano is all about…