Learning languages is among the most frustrating experiences a human being can go through, because no matter how hard you try to learn a language and a culture, there will always be stuff that is otherwise obvious to everyone else and that you do not know. I figured that out a few years ago while attending a conference in Italy.
I had never heard of Don DeLillo. Chances are, I would never have heard of him if it were not for Fred Gardaphé, who might himself be among the top 10 most interesting academics on the planet. He was giving a presentation about food as mirror of Italian identity in the US. It was fascinating. I cried. For Pete’s sake, I cried during a paper presentation because it was so moving that I could not hold it. I looked at the other people in the room, and I was not the only one.