This is Agata's kitchen, but not only Agata's.
With her many different passions and interests, she has turned her kitchen into a sort of crossroads for all her friends, colleagues and acquaintances, who flock here to share their experiences, hopes and ideas. So let's hear it for Marta, an old friend from Agata's university days who shares her passion for restoration and terracotta.
We're both Sicilian – she's from Catania, I'm from Siracusa – so we clicked immediately. Even then, cooking was a big part of our life, blending childhood memories with creativity, delicious "mustazzòli" and our favourite singer, Carmen Consoli. Then we fell in love with terracotta..... After graduating, we took a specialist course in restoration, and now we work from time to time for the archaeological museum in Siracusa. Vases, amphoras and jars serve as a link to our origins.
It is such a pleasure to pass the time brushing and smoothing these items surrounded by the light wood of the kitchen cabinets, which reflect a soft light. Each time we work together, we seem to find more and more elements that cooking and terracotta have in common: clay and flour are the raw materials, and both are mixed with water; they require air for drying and heat for baking or cooking – one result is an amphora, the other a plate of spaghetti!
She lives in Milan, and has instilled in Agata her great love of Afro culture, wax drawings and Dutch fabrics.
That forum on African culture quickly proved to be less than adequate. The web is a fantastic place because, after a while, you realize that you just have to meet someone in person. So, after endless discussions about fabrics, coloured shapes containing countless messages, and after sharing hundreds of photos, we really needed to get together.
That's because the kitchen forms the entrance to Agata's flat and is the heart of her home, the focal point of all her passions. I had but a moment to notice the assorted tiles placed in an artistic non-pattern before I found myself on the floor surrounded by all her coloured wax prints, some of which I had never seen before. Since that first day, meetings – with other members of the forum, too – became more frequent. All in Agata's kitchen, naturally.
She, too, is extremely enthusiastic about the project. Lise speaks no Italian, so Agata speaks for her: "Once a month Lise turns up like a whirlwind. Full of ideas, projects and recipes to be shared. She says that it's the light in Italy that increases her creativity. And also that it's my kitchen, so rational and practical, that has transformed her into a chef. Lise! When I first met her, she only used to eat in restaurants! Now Lise visits Italy about once a month to see how the work is progressing and to set up new projects.
At first, we used a conference room that one of our commercial partners kindly loaned us, but for quite a while now our meetings have been held at my flat. To be more accurate, in my kitchen. This is where work, life, business plans, dreams, problem-solving and the preparation of appetising delicacies come together and complement each other.