Right. But how privileged?

– VIEWS. We sit on top of a villa that sits on top of a village that sits on top of a hill that overlooks Florence and the Arno Valley: we see 360 degrees.

When one can’t go anywhere, seeing everywhere is a huge compensation.
That must be why people with reduced mobility often become very studious and educated.

– SPACE: our home is a large loft. Privacy is low on the list of features. But we have our magical tower apartment, our garden mini-house apartment, our daughter’s garden studio, and the Accidental Tourist home, usually occupied by Airbnb and Accidental Tourist guests – ALL in the same building.
That makes a total of 5 bathrooms, 5 kitchens, 12 beds. During lockdown, I plan to sleep in every bed, shower in every bathroom, and make myself at least a coffee in every kitchen. Just to test, for when my guests come back to fill this home with life again.

I send a thankful thought to the circa 40,000 guests who had a meal or a sleepover, in the 22-year life of Accidental Tourist.

– FAMILY: we are all here. The 2 kids are stranded with us.
(We are probably happier about it than they are). Oh well. I know they will cherish the memory, someday.
And for those who are not together but long to be, building up desire and looking forward to a reunion can be an unrequested reality check (as most are…).

I trust this forced separation will make people kinder to one another.

– FOOD: We live in a country that produces lots of healthy, tasty, affordable ingredients. Our region of Tuscany produces world class wines and olive oil. We run a business that lives on taste and nutrition.
So at the moment we are stocked with Chianti, EVO, Senatore Cappelli, and powdered stinging nettle. Our good friend and co-hostess Gabriela has a chicken coo. The rest, we can still buy walking distance.

As I have my mind on ingredients, an important decision arises:
Shall we “play safe” (go crazy) and raid the supermarket?
What if we are taking away someone else’s share? What if there is no need and we simply end up throwing food away? (wasting food: an unbearable thought for the average Italian).
Or, shall we see the bottom of our existing food stock and learn to use everything we have?
In case of global food shortage we will just starve a few days before everyone else. Oh well. Surviving doesn’t seem so appealing, alone.

After consulting with the lion and the chicken in me, I opt for buying time by inventoring EVERY EDIBLE ITEM in all our cupboards.

– – – – – -3 hours later: Humble pie never expires, so I eat it. (Never tastes good anyway): after 22 years of making an honorable living by telling people how to eat fresh, I have to admit that there were items hidden in the very back of my pantry that expired in 2013. Those you keep because “you never know”.
This chore is teaching me something on more than one level.

– But wait! 10am: time for that glass of red wine –

So if happiness could be made by a recipe, it is very important to know what makes our own.
Too easy to be happy when all ingredients are there, fresh and plentiful: health, money, work, family, romantic love, social life, inner growth. Too easy, and highly unlikely.
The real challenge is whipping together the scraps of what is there in the pantry, like it’s 9 pm on a Saturday and unexpected guests show up hungry at the door, expecting to find you fed and happy, with left overs for them.

I get it! In the quest for happiness, inventory is essential:
What a waste it is to have all the right stuff, if we don’t know we have it!
All too often we have everything we need; we just keep it in the wrong place:
like when you keep marrying one wrong person after another, while the right one (your best friend, perhaps?) was there all along:
right ingredient, wrong shelf.

On the contrary it happens to plan out a whole dinner based on an ingredient we are sure to have plenty of, only to discover that there was nothing left but an empty container: what we seem to own does not always belong to us. Or, like my buckwheat flour, has expired long ago. It just sits pretty, pretending to be there.

So even before we set out to go get what is missing, it is essential for our happiness recipe to fill in the list of ingredients that we already have in the pantry.
Then if you come up with an emergency/lockdown recipe, pass it on! “the flame of a single candle can light a thousand more before being consumed”.
A bit like word of mouth, or Corona virus.
So pass it on, BUT STAY HOME!

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