Choices and Self-Searching.

Imagine that you are a foreigner, a stranger. You are somebody who lives and works in a foreign country. Imagine also that you are a first time guest of the house and the lady in charge of the cooking presents “tagliatelle alla bolognese” for lunch. Several people are at the table and the chef would like to impress them.

It is an important occasion and definitely she is trying her best.

She prepared a wonderful sauce (ragu` alla bolognese) and perfect hand-made pasta. However, following the tradition of the house, when the water was boiling, she put the ragu` and the tagliatelle into the water, all together.

She boiled that stinky mixture for few minutes. Then she dried it and served it to the guests.

The final result is a sort of extra-done, sticky, greasy pasta, colored in brown tonalities, with small pieces of washed meat and discolored spices, everywhere. For generations after generations, in that very house, this was the way to prepare and serve that kind of dish.

The island where she lives is populated by hundreds of thousands of people and everybody, with no exceptions, uses the same method to prepare and serve tagliatelle alla bolognese.

Now, imagine also that all the other guests appreciate the treat.

Actually, they like it. It seems they are enjoying their meal. That’s how they cook it, in their own house. It must be right, because everybody else in the island is doing it, exactly the same way.

You are the only one who has some difficulties eating it. You don’t like how it looks, you don’t like how it smells and, most importantly, you don’t like how it tastes. In fact, you are an Italian, coming from Bologna and you believe they should know better.

You have only two choices.

The first one will keep you in line and in harmony with the totality of the people there. You shut up, eat what is in front of you with a smile in your face and compliment the chef.

In doing so, you will also confirm to her and to everybody else, that this is the correct procedure to prepare and serve this famous Italian dish.

The second one is to speak up, telling them exactly how you would execute every step and all the directions of that recipe.

Unfortunately, there is another little problem. For reasons not related to this issue, you cannot talk to the lady chef in private. If you speak up, you must do it directly and in public.

No matter how respectfully you are going to act, you know that your words will be shocking for her and she will suffer, as a consequence of your behavior.

She is a good friend of yours and you have a dilemma to solve.

As a true friend, you would like to give her and others, those humble suggestions which will allow them to enjoy the real tagliatelle alla bolognese, for the rest of their lives.

However, that cannot be done, without hurting the feelings of your lady friend and without affecting the high sensitivity of many other residents of that island.

Besides, this is a classic case where even doing nothing, implies taking side. Whatever you do, you cannot avoid making a choice, one way or the other.

It will be impossible for you, to stay neutral.

If you keep silent, they will continue cooking and eating that disgusting mixture. If you reveal your truth, they will feel bad and maybe even irritated by what you say.

It is not the easiest choice of your life. It is not the happy ending everybody wishes, after a lunch with close friends.

But, there is something interesting about it. No matter what kind of choice you make, you will end up learning a lot about yourself and others.