Vale Ermanno Olmi

“The loss of Ermanno Olmi is the loss of a great friend, and a figure with a unique ability to tell the stories of farmers and breathe life into their rituals and traditions. His understanding and affection for rural culture have shown how effectively art can weave a representation of bucolic life and the identity of country folk, with both power and sensitivity. His works touched and moved many, as did his words, unerringly resolute and visionary, even during the final, difficult period of his life. Today, we have lost one of the most generous and lucid minds of our era.” The words of Slow Food founder and President Carlo Petrini at the passing away of his friend and collaborator, the director Ermanno Olmi, one of the leading lights in the history of Italian Cinema.

In September 2013, during the Cheese festival, the city of Bra welcomed Olmo as UNISG awarded him the Laurea Honoris Causa. In an intimate and moving ceremony, Olmi was recognized for his work and efforts over many years, drawing attention to the lives and traditions of farmers; ingraining care and respect for nature and the little things in life; masterfully blending an understanding of the past with a modern perspective; recounting with great sensitivity the world of the sacred and that of the profane.

As a man and as an artist, Olmi will be missed for his depth and for the wealth of the work he leaves behind, characterized by such a distinct care and sensitivity for the very themes which are at the core of our work.

We will leave the final word to the man himself, via an extract from his speech accepting his degree in Gastronomic Sciences.

“What could I talk to you about other than three recipes that I have tried at home. The first is to take a pot, to add a lug of oil, a clove of chopped a garlic, a sprig of fresh, chopped rosemary, and a bit of chili. Let it steep until lunchtime and then use it on spaghetti, it’s delicious. And it is because the melody is conducted by a central taste, the rosemary. In each dish, like in music, you must find the central taste. That is the recipe of taste. The second recipe is medicinal, which I used for my children to prevent flu. I would make a soup with a head of garlic for each person, two potatoes and a bit of diced pancetta. Sure, the kids stunk for days, but they didn’t catch the flu! The third recipe is about how food should be experienced. Just as every dish needs its central taste, every word, every conversation, must have its own aroma, do not let be distracted and burn the roast. And to you students, I will leave some advice: cook not for yourselves but for others, for good cheer, for friendship, and to be happy together. And even if you are alone, set an extra plate on the table and have a chat with an imaginary guest,. I assure you, it is much better than being alone. Congratulations to you all and good luck.”

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