We want to explore some aspects of the world of the inconspicuous consumption of the fine cigar, and have asked Giuseppe Elefante to share his thoughts on cigars and friendship, on what he believes is the most noble sense of a cigar in such a relationship.
The success of cigars is certainly due to many factors. Passions, interests, curiosities, fashion and trends merge in a fascinating dimension, amplifying the interest of an ever increasing number of enthusiasts.
The lively discussions of technical nature, the debates on quality, production, on the past, present and future of the cigar testify to all the vitality of the industry and contribute a lot to spreading the knowledge of a product coming from an undiluted mix of tradition, culture and passion.
Friendship: beyond appearances, with simplicity
The exasperated quest for exterior appearance, as well as for technicalities, does not align with the simplicity of some of the most magnanimous impulses of the human soul. We tend to bury all virtues as soon as we obsessively think about the next post in social media.
For Giuseppe, the knowledge of the cigar world therefore implies a behavioral approach, preparatory to any other aspect related to the cigar enjoyment or to technicalities. For him, knowing the world of cigars means, ultimately, understanding the message of education and elegance as primary elements for the definition of an authentic passion. This outlines the authentic enthusiast, the fine connoisseur, her/his education and the attitude that she/he assumes towards the cigar, as well as towards other enthusiasts with whom she establishes a cordial and friendly relationship, assuming the character of a cultured, tolerant and refined person.
But how do we unravel the friendship between mankind and the cigar?
What makes a good cigar comparable to a friend?
The role played by our cigar is never marginal, the cigar is not just a guest, it is often the protagonist, the minister of conviviality and friendship. The reasons that gave rise to the fascinating liaison between cigar and friendship are multiple and mysterious.
The Tainos were already in love with the special magic of tobacco. What is amazing is that still today, after over 500 years, such magic maintained its aura of fascinating mystery and its solemn ritual significance.
Although many literary references talk about the gratitude expressed by the cigar enthusiast to her/his cigar after a positive experience, such references are not sufficient to understand the reasons that define the intimate affinity between the cigar and its smoker. The common data is the absolute dedication of the enthusiast toward the cigar. Without it and her/his competence, the cigar would be tormented and could not gift its magnificent and unique identity.
A good friend is dear to us because of her/his generosity, availability, ability to cope with our worst days with kindness and compassion. If a cigar is capable of giving us something similar, the connection between the two, cigar and friendship, can start to be more evident.
On one end, the cigar is able to help us make great friends, on the other end we can establish a deep relationship with our cigars. In the former case, the cigar has the function of catalyst in the social relationship of which it is the main ingredient. In the latter case, there is a more intimate and personal component, which converges in focus and meditation.
The best is what resonates most with each of us, with our personal character. It seems, however, that the care the smoker has for her/his cigars can flow into a better inclination to take care of human friends.
If the cigar belongs to an enthusiast and is surrounded by authenticity, it will not just represent an object. In fact, the cigar fascinates not for being a simple roll of tobacco, but for what it is able to offer when it is treated with care and respect. The deeper the relationship between the smoker and her/his cigar, the greater is the role played by the cigar in this particular emotional process.
The result of care can ripen and release the best of itself when it’s time to smoke the cigar. It’s about reciprocal care and attention, like in human friendships. By virtue of such prerogative, the cigar is always ready to gift us a serene pause, satisfying relax and regenerating meditation.
Sometime it may happen that it disappoints us. It can happen and it cannot help it because this is in its nature of handmade cigar. It can have some wrapper defect, or a difficult draw or, worse, not convey the aromas and tastes that we wished to perceive. It is an unaware victim of such flaws, as the only aim for which it was built was to give pleasure. Just like what we do with our human friends, we would always give a second chance, forgiving the occasional defaillances thanks to the loyalty that connects us to its ability to give us so much.
We need to be able to choose our own friends, which are the cigars in this context. Time is the test bench: a friend does not ask for time but gives time. And maybe the greatest quality of a friend is the ability to be the messenger of our needs, to patiently adapt to the role of anchor in our life.
Can cigars give us all the above? Certainly, but at the condition that we respect their noble, distinguishing prerogatives.
We should not think we can find better friends in the important sizes, we can find inestimable friends also in the second or third raw, among the less majestic sizes, or among the less prestigious brands.
In spite of their loyalty, it is important that we don’t ask our cigars, even if small in size, to be sacrificed on the street or in a quick break. We would have little satisfaction, no reconnection with our emotions and our thoughts. Besides, would we ever do this to a friend?
Maybe the secret of the magic is exactly in the demanding need for leisure that triggers the mysterious alchemy. In any case, there are no recipes to find the best friends, whether they are cigars or humans.
What Giuseppe explains delineates a character of the passionate cigar smoker who, as Zino Davidoff wrote in his famous The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar, quoting Marc Alyn, is a calm “man”, slow and sure of his breath. This means elegance, nobility of feelings, friendship, all expressions that should distinguish the traits of the authentic smoker.
A last annotation, one connected to the generosity with which the refined connoisseur feels urged to treat her/his friends, those with whom she shares such a genuine passion. Generosity, in the cigar world, is an essential element of conviviality and of the pleasure to share. This means that every enthusiast knows that many of her purchased cigars will often become gifts for friends, as the most sincere and authentic expression of this passion that turns into magic.