Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Italian Person-Centered Conference Dinner/ Thanksgiving in Rome/ Further Reflections on My Presentation

Entry for 25 - 26 November 2006:

In spite of the theft, we decided that we would consider the conference dinner for the Italian Person-Centered Approach Conference as our Thanksgiving feast this year. Billed as a 6-course mail, we lost track somewhere in the middle, partly because most of the courses had multiple parts to them, to whit:

1. Appetizers: 6 or 7 different appetizers deposited on our plates a random times over the space of half an hour.
2. Pasta: 3 different kinds of pasta, served onto our plates at intervals, the last a rigatoni served with a fiery red sauce called in Italian “angry sauce”. Note: The pasta is generally amazing here, the noodles have more body making the pasta we get in Scotland or America seems like pallid imitations. People offer various theories about this, ranging from not being over-cooked, to “freshness,” to the use of hard vs. soft wheat (my favorite theory).
3a. Meat: large cubes of beef, leg of lamb in chunks, both very tender and nicely seasoned.
3b. A salad of missed greens was deposited onto our meat plates. We were definitely flagging by this point. Two courses back, we had taken to trying to predict the next course. The money was on a fish course…
4. Tiramisou came as a pleasant surprise, and was lighter and more refreshing than the usual heavy version we get in the USA. More importantly, we were given the etymology of the word: it means “Pull yourself up”, or more colloquially, “Pick me up”.
5. Most people left about this point, but a few of us stayed for the dessert liquor, and we ordered something that was described as lemon peal in ethanol. Quite aromatic, and strong!
6. Either we missed something, or the salad and coffee/liquor were separate courses… or Alberto was exaggerating.

I sat next to Andre’ de Peretti, a French person-centered educator. It was so noisy, especially with the Naples group shouting from one table to the next, that we had trouble understanding each other. However, he did manage to compliment me on my presentation. He said, over the din and in his charmingly accented English, something approximating the following: “Rogers told me he never wanted to start an orthodoxy, but some people don’t understand that. There are different kinds of people, so we need different kinds of therapy. I enjoyed your presentation because it brings a different approach.”

After the most of the other had left, we stayed for a bit and talked with some of the postgraduate students from the Alberto’s Rome training centre (he has 2 others in Italy). One of them told us, that she had heard me talk when I came to Italy before 2 years ago but found my presentation too technical, so she had planned to skip my talk. However, as she passed by the room, she discovered that I was presenting one of my own cases, so she stayed, and found it very interesting. I said, “Great, I like to surprise people!”

We walked back to the hotel. The Naples group was standing around outside the hotel, smoking. (Italy has recently banned smoking in public buildings, with the result that, like Scotland, one has to brave a gauntlet of second-hand smoke in order to enter most public buildings and restaurants.) They greeted us enthusiastically. When we arrived two days ago, only a couple people at the conference knew or recognized us, now we were “almost famous” (to quote a movie title). We used the computer in the hotel lobby to check our bank accounts, which appeared to be unmolested, and that was the end of our belated, odd and oddly satisfying, Roman Thanksgiving.

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