don’t listen to anyone. non ascoltare nessuno.
that was the first step of the Roman butcher’s cooking instructions.
he sold gigantic sides of meat—think Fred Flintstone proportions—at a shop in the city center.
whenever a customer was doubtful or looked overwhelmed by the dinosaur ribcage he purchased, the butcher sprang into action. removing his gloves, he disappeared into the back office. after rooting around he’d return holding a slip of paper, a half sheet at most.
as Italian behavior goes, telling someone to ignore everyone (except the speaker himself) is standard. and while don’t listen to anyone could be seen as a joke—“everyone thinks i’m crazy but they’re the crazy ones!” the butcher was right. a sage, really.
assume you bought meat from him. since it’s the middle of an ancient, chaotic city, you’re schlepping your loot by foot. people may ask what you’re carrying but stares are guaranteed as you struggle over uneven cobblestones.
as you get closer to home, you’ll probably run into neighbors. once they find out you’re lugging the side of a Mastodon, opinions will fly. well, first you have to rub it with rosemary, then garlic.
or whatever. the point is, advice will surface where none is needed. and you have to be ready. otherwise, by the time you’re climbing the 72 uneven, slippery marble steps to your apartment, your head will be spinning with culinary options and self-doubt:
am i being punked by a butcher?
is that how butchers behave?
why don’t i know this?
not to worry, from behind his glass case your friendly, neighborhood butcher foresaw it all. his technique was unusual, artistic, and bound to be questioned.* having survived the fire of people’s judgment, he assumed the role of meat preparation guardian. his permission slips save the world, one shoddily prepared dinosaur at a time.
you’ve got to be your own Roman butcher. hand yourself an A4 half sheet of instructions, where step one is don’t listen to anyone about your outlandish ideas. because the less certain you are, the more advice you’ll seek. and the nuttier the idea sounds, the more likely you are to receive safe, rote, and discouraging opinions.
in fact, your fledgling idea is essentially as fragile and time sensitive as raw meat.
this isn’t about ignoring the suggestions of people in the know. it’s about circumventing the peanut gallery. for example, i met a guy over the weekend who’s a podcast pro. i told him my idea for one and he gently nixed it, citing over-saturation. you’d better believe i’m trusting him. and i intend to learn every shred of wisdom he’s willing to share. (hey, James!)
consider the source, keep your own counsel, and most importantly, non ascoltare nessuno.
*i don’t know the details. i was just lucky enough to enjoy the spoils of this revolutionary meat preparation. although i only care about food to the extent that i’m still alive, it was clear his method was…sensational.
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