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Dilemma di Buridano

My father told me more than once the story of the donkey who, having a lot of things to eat in front of him, spent so much time deciding which ones to choose that he finally starved to death.

A seemingly joking, paradoxical story that is actually much more realistic – and therefore dramatic – than it sounds. In fact, I recognise myself all too much in that hesitant donkey, and I understand his dilemma very well: probably I too, who knows how many times, not knowing how to decide between two possibilities that were both perfectly acceptable, have ended up losing one or the other.

The problem with problems of abundance, in fact, is that we often look for a reason to decide: if this reason exists, it will be easy to make a choice. But if this reason does not exist, and the possibilities in front of us all seem equally good, then it is only instinct that can impose itself, provided it is ready and strong enough to do so; otherwise rationality, caught up in its idle reasoning, will lock us into a dead-end loop. This is precisely the dilemma I face when I am home alone for dinner, and I want to decide what to cook and what ingredients to buy.

I’ve tried flicking through magazines, online sites and social media, and copying recipes, or waiting for my inspiration, but it almost never comes: and so I feel the spectre of the donkey looming. The breadth of ingredients available in this historical era, with no seasonal or geographical limits to availability, makes this embarrassment even dizzying.

In the end I thought of looking at the menus of some Bolognese restaurants, which by profession take responsibility for those daily choices that I cannot make. And so I can copy theirs.

For example there is Zenzero Bistrot, a vegan friendly place that has a lunch menu and an evening menu.

Or Sfoglia Rina, with a menu that changes every week. And on the homepage it suggests “recipe of the month”.

Some menus seem perhaps too ambitious for my culinary skills, such as that of the Posto di Via Massarenti or the Arcimboldo, but you can keep them in mind for some special occasion. The monthly menu at La Gatta in Via Bellaria is also very refined. And then there are the two menus at B+ in Casalecchio di Reno, where Alessia and I have spent many wonderful moments.

As for my hometown, I appreciate for example the creativity of the names of the dishes offered by Gattò Milano.

In Washington there are many Italian restaurants or restaurants inspired by Italian cuisine, for example Centrolina and Casolare.

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