Unless you’re a foodie or a food photographer, you’re probably like me (and most tourists), and put away the camera when food arrives on the table. Here are 3 reasons to document your gastronomic experience in Italy.
1) Recipes you can replicate at home are the best souvenir.
A lot of Italian food is really simple to make. Just by taking a photo of it, you can relive a part of your trip much later, and become a little bit more Italian. The salad below is a Sicilian salad of onions, oranges and olives, and you can literally see all the ingredients. Mix together a couple cut up oranges, some chunks of red onion, some olives, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Done. (I had intended post this recipe during the month of September, during the O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, but alas.)
2) Food photos will help you remember other parts of your holiday.
When your vacation is long over, you’ll look at the photo of the food and remember the restaurant, who you were with, the rest of the meal, and maybe even what you did that day. The Sicilian salad is from our honeymoon, and whenever I make it, I’m reminded of Syracuse, the view from our table, and of course the time we spent in Sicily.
I’ve probably been to hundreds of pizzerias in Italy, but when I look at the photo of the pizza below, I remember the specific pizzeria I was at in Turin, the girlfriends I was with, and the strange movie we saw afterwards.
3) It’s a great way to get to know the locals.
Italians love talking about food. In fact, if you meet an Italian you’d like to get to know better, male or female, young or old, food is pretty much a slam-dunk subject of conversation. The photo below reminds me of a long conversation I had with the fishmonger at a local market. I was daunted by all the different types of fish, didn’t know what they were (and my dictionary was no help), and least of all how to cook them. The fishmonger gave me a few ideas, recipes I still use today.
Trout: buy the whole fish as shown below, already cleaned & de-boned. Open, add some olive oil, some lemon juice, fresh herbs like oregano or thyme, close. Wrap each fish in foil, and bake 13 minutes at about 350 degrees.
And once, a friend’s mother made a delicious chocolate cake, so I asked her for the recipe. “I could give it to you”, she said, “but it wouldn’t help. Your oven is different, your cake pans are different. It took me 7 years to experiment with this cake and get it the way my mother used to make it.” I wish I had a photo of that cake but it was gone by the time I remembered my camera. But the photo that got away led to such an interesting – and typically Italian – conversation.
All photos by Madeline
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