The King, the Autarchic... and the chef

No time I. Diana Halabi, mixed media on canvas

No time I. Diana Halabi, mixed media on canvas

“They call it Osteria da Diogene and is the unique restaurant in the world with a tailored menu formula. It is not in New York where the Eleven Madison Park by David Humm was just crowned the king of the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2017. It is not in Italy where the Osteria Francescana of Massimo Bottura achieved the same award the year before. You do not need to travel for miles, to get such a tailored food experience. You do not have to book your table six months in advance. The chef we are talking about is much closer than you can imagine and that you never thought: that restaurant is at your place and you are the chef!”  

I was warming up some leftover spaghetti from the day before and the above spot flickered into my mind like an advertisement. After tossing the spaghetti I place them on a plate adding xxx, a drizzling of xxx, some fresh grinded xxx and… buon appetito!

When we eat alone, the world is silent and our taste is free from social conventions. Leftover food and sometimes combinations that could horrify us if they served them at the restaurant, become easily part of our hermit menu: a non-menu and the ensemble of all menus at the same time.

Back to back. Diana Halabi, Acrylic and charcoal on canvas

Back to back. Diana Halabi, Acrylic and charcoal on canvas

The food we prepare for ourselves represents the grade zero of taste intended as the result of our social life, the cut on the canvas by Lucio Fontana, the grade zero of color Robert Ryman shows us playing with the white. Or, going to music, the silence John Cage was playing with.

In all cases the silence we try to get can never be a pure silence. Like John Cage, even entering in an anechoic chamber - a room designed to absorb any sound or electromagnetic waves, completely isolated from any noise coming from outside - we will perceive at least the high frequency sounds coming from our brain and the long wavelength of our blood flowing.

Preparing our food and eat it alone is the anechoic chamber of taste.  Have you never imagined the salty taste losing the sense? Or the sweet one running away from the risk of pleasure? Have you never imagined the sour taste as color flashes, the bitter one as thinking and the umami as the eco of the past?

Eating my leftover warmed up spaghetti alone, I was rambling on about above thoughts and it was like losing myself in the fog between pleasure and Autarcheia, desire and sovereignty.

No time II. Diana Halabi, acrylic on canvas

No time II. Diana Halabi, acrylic on canvas

I realized that I was eating completely naked, with the dish of spaghetti in one hand and the fork in the other, sitting on the naked floor. And I imagined myself crouched facing a starred chef like Diogenes of Sinope in front of Alexander the Great.

The mythic encounter between the King Alexander the Great and the cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, famous for his wild and simple lifestyle based on moral rigor striving for Autarkeia, happened more than 2.300 years ago. The story came to us through the writings of Diogenes Laerzio that described their meeting giving us one of the best representations of the two models of sovereignty incarnated by the two.

When Alexander arrived to Corinth to meet the famous philosopher, approaching the barrel tub where the latter was used to leave, he wanted to fulfill a wish for Diogenes and asked him what he desired.

“Could you stand a little out of my sun?” Diogenes replied. Going back to his companions it seems that King Alexander declared “Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes”.

The encounter by Alessandro and Origene represented by the Italian painter Paride Pascucci (1866-1954)