One of the things I love about the creative process is that it is harder to benchmark, measure, and quantify and therefore, it requires a leap of faith. It is much more difficult to understand a creative process versus a production process because each creator approaches their craft so differently.
I only sit down to produce blog articles one day a week, but I never stop writing in my mind’s eye. Creativity, at its pinnacle, often generates a product but it is not driven by productivity. It is driven by the creative process that brings forth the product.
Sometimes it is easier to get creative juices flowing when the expectations are low and the audience is small. Chocolatiers in Italy know all about practicing a craft and creating the beauty of international acclaim when no one is looking. With neighbors like France and Belgium, Italy was not a player in the complex world of chocolate, until now.
We live on the outskirts of the chocolate valley located between Pisa, Pistoia, and Prato. In Pontedera, the Amedei chocolate maker holds court as the winner of numerous awards, including the Golden Bean Award from the Academy of Chocolate in 2013. In Pisa, it is possible to taste Paul de Bondt and Cecilia Lacobelli’s creations as they are among the fifteen best chocolate craftsmen in the world. A stop in Pistoia leads to the Slitti chocolate and coffee shop. Roberto Catinari of Agliana is a pioneer in the production of chocolate in Tuscany. In Prato, a rest in Pasticceria Mannori inevitably leads to sampling handmade pralines, cakes, or chocolate eggs.
Creativity grows on trees in Northern Italy and culturally Italians were perfectly suited to rise to the top of the chocolate scene. They only use the best ingredients. They are committed to the entire process, without shortcuts, and they believe in showcasing the simplicity of complex flavors. Presentation is important but the story of the process should not be lost in the packaging. As we wandered around the chocolate festival in our town last weekend, each vendor had a story to tell and a velvety sample to make their story unforgettable. As they shrouded their creations from the strength of the setting sun with colorful awnings, we ducked into each booth to feast our eyes on a different perspective.
Even though the product was divine, what we took away with us were the stories. There was a creative energy that perfumed the air with a permanence that seemed effortless because the intent was to create something beautiful.