A June day in Ariccia, south of Rome (see post from January); we went because my wife Brette has written a fabulous article on the local porchetta for Cucina Italiana, which she shared with those who helped in the research. There I met the impassioned Gino Galieti, of La Castellana (Antico Laboratorio Lavorazione Carni, or Venerable Shop for Working Meats--or something to that effect!) in nearby Genzano. What gets Gino riled up is a discussion about the industrialization of erstwhile artisan Italian meats--salumi, porchetta, etc. And what Gino has to say about the shortcuts producers have introduced into the production of cured pork--stagionato, or aged, salamis now only requiring 2 days!--could be applied to art or building. Everything we do today, it seems, with the exception of rigorists like Gino (and myself), is faking it with respect to the time and quality involved in what our culture once produced. Gino, subject to brief fits of despair, soldiers on, making his coppiette come una volta. And indeed, our only hope is combining his penchant for crankiness ("It's the chefs who don't sustain the quality producers!") with actually doing it the right way any chance we get (like painting frescoes).
Those of us involved in classical architecture lament a lot about what's missing in our culture--patronage, craft, taste--but perhaps the most fundamental thing is the value of Time. Time to draw well, time to think well, time to build well. If we can't recover the value of Time, we'll remain just faking it. And, you know, Gino's real stuff does simply taste better.