Many years ago, I visited Italy on my birthday, August 12th, and stayed at the Villa San Michele, a small luxurious hotel in Fiesole situated on a cliff with breathtaking views of Florence. The villa, attributed to Michelangelo, once a 15th century monastery housing Catholic nuns with very tiny rooms, afforded us a breakfast never to be forgotten. For it is was here, the morning of my birthday, that I received a special gift to eat with absolute pleasure the world's greatest croissants. It was absolutely memorable. My taste buds literally exploded. But, alas for now, wherever I go and order croissants I am always disappointed in the comparison.
In 1978, I went on my first trip to Japan almost totally lost by the language barrier. Forever hopeful though, I ordered each morning croissants with eggs, only to be again and again disappointed. I knew at the time that Japanese products were being noticed as having greater and greater quality but that sense of quality did not reach their bakers of croissants. Italy, especially Fiesole had nothing, as yet, to worry about.
Well, quality improvement over these past twenty some odd years has surely penetrated throughout Japan. While Japan 50 years ago was noted as only making "junky" products, we can all attest to the high quality automobiles, the fine Nikon and Canon digital cameras, the excellent Sony and Nippondenso games, the superior machine tools, their extraordinary electronic products, and many other high quality items manufactured in Japan. As quality has improve enormously in Japan, in almost every aspect of their lives, I felt assuredly that one day soon croissants would be baked equal to those I once experienced many years ago.
Not to be totally disappointed, on my last trip to Japan a few months ago, I stayed at the new Oriental hotel in downtown Tokyo. The room was magnificent with a great view of Tokyo, high definition television, most comfortable of beds, and the "piece d'resistance," a marble bathroom with three shower heads, sunken Jacuzzi tub, and a computerize la bode fit for a seventeenth century European monarch. With baited breath, I rose and drifted to the breakfast room with hope that my thirty years of searching for a comparable croissant was to be found.
It was dazzling! The croissants were great. I ate them with much appreciation but still even though they were the finest eaten in the last thirty years, they were not yet exactly equal to those once tasted in Fiosele. Italy was being challenged by Japan but still ahead in the race.
I now live in Vancouver, Washington overlooked by the great Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens truly America's visual splendor. But, unfortunately, I have never found a croissant that comes even close to Japan or that great one discovered years ago on my birthday.
But, I don't give up. I do live with hope that America will once again discover that a democracy can only exist when its people realize the vital importance of having a quality of work life, and living a quality of life and that the heart of great quality is to be able to eat a great croissant.
I do hope you like my story and want me to write more about the importance of quality in our lives. I especially want to write about the quality of work life, what it means and how it can be attained by all. Please do cheer me on. Thank you,