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Altre volte costruiamo un’immagine di noi corrispondente alle aspettative altrui, e altre volte ancora ci comportiamo in modi nemmeno da noi condivisi soltanto per contrastare le immagini negative che gli altri si sono fatte di noi. Gli studiosi di psicologia infantile, quelli che indagano il legame madre-bambino, hanno chiarito bene quanto il bambino abbia bisogno del sorriso materno e come si adoperi per suscitarlo. Quella che chiamiamo identità è spesso il frutto di un bisogno di affetto, di riconoscimento, molte volte è esito di un gioco di sguardi incrociati, di malintesi, di chiusure e di aperture nostre e degli altri.

Cominciai a mantenere, socializzando sempre più, le mie promesse e caratteristiche di calabrese. In fondo mi comportavo come gli emigrati e quelli che avevano fatto la guerra: mangiare peperoncino era una sorta di legame con il mondo d’origine. Il mio interesse per il peperoncino aumentava, e non solo a livello alimentare. Quando tornavo in paese, d’estate, in occasione delle feste, ormai in fatto di piccante me la cavavo bene anche rispetto ai più terribili e accaniti mangiatori di peperoncino, amici braccianti e mastri muratori, ma anche studenti.

Molti, invece, sottolineano, quasi con un sentimento di gratitudine, che proprio con il pane di granturco, da solo o mischiato, che peraltro non sempre potevano avere, spesso scongiuravano la fame nera. Ancora ai nostri giorni, le persone più anziane, quelle che hanno vissuto l’infanzia durante il fascismo o nel secondo dopoguerra, se lo fanno preparare per desiderio, pe’ disiju, lo ricercano per assaggiarlo, quasi per sentire i sapori dell’infanzia. Non mi sembrano spinti dalla nostalgia di un «buon tempo alimentare andato», per sempre perduto, o da rimpianto di maniera, ma piuttosto dal desiderio di tornare, con la «memoria» vivificata dai sapori di una volta, al mondo dell’infanzia, che comunque resta sempre bella.

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