mardi, 17 septembre 2019|

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Montaigne’s innovator mindset

Montaigne’s innovator mindset

As he travelled 16th century Europe with a small entourage of servants, secretary and family members polishing their education, Michel de Montaigne regretted the absence of... his cook.

Such attitude was typical innovator mindset.

Germans serve meat with a variety of spices in small dishes, relates Montaigne


The reader would be forgiven for seeing in Montaigne’s regret the expression of typical French snobism about food - or, should I say, cuisine. After all, a nobleman living on his estate half-way between Perigueux and Bordeaux would have been used to dining in style and might have found the food in traveller’s lodges along foreign highways a lot less pallatable.

But, to the dismay of his entourage, Montaigne, wanderer of the diversity of human customs, philosopher of the commonality of human nature, enjoyed every bit of difference that he came across. If he regretted the absence of his cook, it is not because he would have preferred to feel at home ; it is because he would have wanted the cook to learn all those new recipes !

« While he was travelling, M. De Montaigne noted with regret three steps which he had neglected to take with regards to his journey. One was that he had not taken with him a cook, who might have learnt the particular methods of foreign lands, and some day at home have shown proof of his skills**. »

The willingness to get out of one’s comfort zone, the open-mindedness to explore what’s different, and the eagerness to learn and internalise it, make for great innovators.

Yann Cramer

* Germans serve meat with a variety of spices in small dishes, relates Montaigne in the Journal.
** The Journal of Montaigne’s travels in Italy by way of Switzerland and Germany in 1580 and 1581, translated and edited by W. G. Waters, 1903