Life runs strong between the streets of Hathian.. A kind of energy life that seems to assume many forms.. and while I was following its trail, I found myself in the surroundings of the Hathian General when I heard a music that reminded me of a past, but together with that, an atmosphere, difficult to describe. The music was jazzy, and the melody seemed to have been taken from some sort of Federico Fellini movie. I decided to follow it, and soon another of my senses was struck. It was the scent of homely food, I could feel it thicker under my nostrils as I was walking towards the source of that nice smell, a kind of scent that belongs to the realms of childhood, it seemed to me to be in some sort of Proustian book. And as I was drawing nearer, I slowly was making up my mind that the scent came out of a lounge bar, with 6 golden letters on the sign placed at the top of a façade that already tell you about what kind of a classy bar is this, “Sofia’s”. And well, not all bars can be proud of having a security officer in its front. I showed him the card that would certify that I was of the Observer and would step inside the place. The walls, nicely decorated with black and white pictures, resembled the age of the great Gatsby and you could definitely smell scent of good food. Shortly after, a classy lady was coming down the stairs, dressed with an elegant lace gown. She introduced herself as miss Sofia Messina, the owner of the bar that is name after her, and you could say that she mirrors the class that you can see in her restaurant, an elegant mix of classic and modern. After a short introduction, where she offered me a smooth, refreshing and intense liqueur from Sicilia – one would have expected limoncello, but Sofia is a woman of refined tastes and likes to amuse her customers with non conventional choices – she agreed to be interviewed and led me to her office where she, sitting on a classy, vintage armchair, surmounted by a painting from English renaissance, talked about her bar, which is not only a place where one can drink spirits imported from all over the world with a special attention to Italian alcohols, but it is also a place that once in a month hosts a themed event; then she described the adjacent restaurant, the Morgan’s, where the chef, an “eccentric, yet amazing” lady who was living for the most part of her life in Italy was now cooking traditional Italian dishes that would remind her of her childhood. Later on, I had the occasion to speak with the actual owner of the Morgan’s, mr. Morgan Davis, a man of refined manners and tastes, which is visible not only in the way he wears, but also in the care he chooses his employees, and he confirmed what miss Messina had said.
“That is actually the aim of the bar and the restaurant, to offer an experience of elegance and fine dining, prepared by two of the finest chefs in Louisiana”.
But something was so.. unusual, somehow maybe out of place.. like I had the impression that something was contrasting too much.. so I asked the lady the reason of such efforts. I mean, we all know this town, corrupted from its roots.. Why even bothering to open here such an activity that would be so in contrast with the town itself? Wouldn’t it have been better if she was opening her activity in Manhattan or Beverly Hills?
“for me, those places are filled with superficiality. I am a people person, and I like the people here- There is life here, beating in the streets, with struggle – I see it.”
and then, without me asking anything, she got to the point which is the real reason why I wanted to interview her:
The reality here is no different to other cities – only here, the mask is off. So instead, we offer something to people here, and remind them that misfortune and hard times do not need to become you and your surroundings. No matter what your situation, there can always be nice things, good food, and an aesthetic that enriches your environment, enlivens the senses and lifts the energy of the city. Where there is hopelessness, there is hope.
The interview was over, but she would not let me go without offering me another shot of Italian spirit.. What a wonderful host Sofia is, who can find beauty and hope not only where it is common to find it, but also where it seems to lack the most. Only a question remains suspended: local, seasonal vegetables, all kinds of spirits, also expensive ones, imported from Italy, a staff growing everyday and high standards of service.. is it really something that the average Hathian citizen can afford? and if not, where do they get their money from? The aims are high.. would the way to get them be high too?