Rita, Nigella and me: in praise of imperfection. Torta margherita with limoncello

Pasta margherita al limoncello

We were still teenagers, we had just entered high school, we were sitting at our desk full of hope, fear and expectations. Professor Lanfredini came into our class to announce us she would stay with us for two years, teaching us Italian, Ancient Greek, Latin and History.

She was with us for so many hours a week that we would see her more than our parents. She soon became almost a second mother to us: she was severe, demanding, she was expecting all our best from us, but she was also able to push us further, instigating curiosity. She was all a good teacher is meant to be, and she was so fun.

Her quotes are still memorable, as her unique way of reading I Promessi Sposi, one of the most important novels in the Italian literature, which might result slightly boring to a group of teenagers: not only I loved that book, but every time she was reading it aloud I could not help but laugh out loud!

She was a lover of biographies and thanks to her quotes we discovered Rita Levi Montalcini’s autobiography, which gave us a new perspective on life, amazingly useful to a group of young people facing the arduous search for an identity.

The book is titled In Praise of imperfection: Rita Levi Montalcini was an Italian scientist and a remarkable woman, she shared the 1986 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine for her part in the discovery of a protein that stimulates nerve cell growth. Her praise of imperfection should have a shuttering effect on the constant and fruitless search for a fragile perfection in which we labour, often for a lifetime.

Rita Levi Montalcini affirms that imperfection has always allowed continuous mutations to that wonderful as well as imperfect mechanism that is the human brain. The imperfection is an essential component of evolution. Without imperfection there would not be change, there would not be improvement; without imperfection we would not be who we are today. That’s why imperfection deserves a praise.

Read More »