Friday, 2 November 2007

Stone soup

The best way to teach and to convince is to act like Socrates. Be a midwife not a schoolmaster. Come with seemingly empty hands, armed with discrete wisdom. Cook new knowledge from the ingredients everybody has and do not know how to value. When the skilled adviser did his work, people believe they are the ones who made it. This reminds me of a story:

The wind and the looting hordes had blown away even the little hospitality a pilgrim might have expected. The farmers shut themselves behind their walls, with relatives, servants, cows, sheep and poultry, all hoping to forget the world outside. Nobody would offer this poor traveller the charity of some food and a sheltered corner for a night.

After a good dozen of frozen doors slammed into his nose, Nasr Eddin tried a different way...

He knocked on the tall wooden gate of a rich household on the hillside.

"Allah help you!" said a servant, "we have nothing to give today."
"A master cook of the kings doesn't need much," Nasrudin replied, "Only a cauldron of water to prepare my stone-soup."

At that time the evenings were long and people eager to be amused with curiosities. They let him in.
"Pray let me have a cauldron of fresh water on the fire," said the Mullah.
They gave him the water.
The Mullah took out of his bag a carefully wrapped river stone.
He washed the stone thoroughly and put it in the water to boil.
The whole household gathered to see this.

After a while the Hodja borrowed a large spoon and tasted the broth:
"Umm! Very good! It needs just one pinch of salt while it simmers."
They passed him the salt.

Soon, the Mullah tried the soup and said:
"Good indeed!"
All this looked amazing and people grew very interested.
Nasr Eddin tried another sip and repeated:
"Good indeed! What we should add now is some herbs and vegetables to round everything up with a most savoury result."

At this time everyone was so curious. They brought him spice and vegetables of the season.

When the vegetables were also well boiled the Mullah licked the broth from the spoon and exclaimed:
"This is one delicious stone soup, of the kind you eat once in a lifetime! It is really worth adding to it some meat. Do you happen to have a fat bone at hand?"

The hosts were quite excited with this stone-soup and someone brought a big meaty marrow bone.

The Mullah placed the bone by the stone and everybody waited. In due course the soup was ready.

The Mullah served the soup to his merry hosts an did not forget to help himself with a large dish and, of course, with the bone. Everybody was pleased to have such a delicious meal prepared from so little.

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