"Maybe it's true that life is a search for beauty,
for the harmony that comes
from the mingling of things.
Maybe life is a search for flavor.
Not the flavor of just a food
but of a moment, or a color, a voice-
- the flavor of what we can hear
Certainly good cooking is about flavor.
About the liberation of flavor,
the suspension of it,
and , finally, the release of it.
One liberates the flavor of an herb
by gently bruising it,
thus freeing its natural oils and essences.
Next, one suspends those oils and essences
inside other components.
For instance, to make a basil pesto,
one pounds garlic and basil
to release their oils and essences.
Then one captures, holds those flavors
by suspending them inside olive oil,
forming an emulsion, a thick, smooth sauce.
But this sauce has yet to rerelease
all those flavors one worked
to liberate and suspend.
The sauce needs heat, contact with heat.
First, taste the sauce cool, just as it is,
from a spoon or your finger.
Certainly it's wonderful.
But then toss the pesto with just-cooked pasta
or spread it on a roasted tomato, hot from the oven.
The contact with heat
intensifies the flavors of the sauce
to their fullness.
The business of cooking
has much in common
with the business of life.
-Marlena de Blasi
A Thousand Days In Venice
Fernando and Marlena de Blasi