Tasting the real Italy (using all five senses)

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Table decoration with vegetables and primroses

Where Lemons Blossom was in Rimini on Feb. 10th to cover an international workshop organized by Bologna University, Rimini Branch, at the Center of Advanced Studies in Tourism (CAST). The title of the workshop was ‘Beyond the Great Beauty (by the way, did you enjoy Sorrentino’s ‘La Grande Bellezza’- ‘The Great Beauty’? – I loved it) – Rescaling Heritage and Tourism’ and its aim was that of promoting the investigation of the entanglement between cultural heritage and tourism through a multi-level and multi-disciplinary perspective.

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The seat of the Center of Advanced Studies in Tourism in Rimini

Well, I must admit that at first I felt somewhat too ‘ordinary’ there ;-). The first three (very friendly) people I talked to were: an American guy from Miami living in Scotland, a Greek young lady living in Ireland and a Russian man living in the Netherlands! What about me? An Italian from Pesaro living in Pesaro who drove to Rimini (35 kms north of Pesaro) to attend the event! The fourth person I talked to was German but I didn’t inquire whether she lived in Germany or not 😉

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The typical ‘crostata’ cake

Anyway, what was WLB doing at such a prestigious international event? Well, we were there because Cristina Ortolani, founder of ‘One Village and One Hundred Stories’ (the project I wrote so many times about), was invited to give a speech. As Where Lemons Blossom is media partner of the project, we went there to take pictures and to help with the ‘tasting’ of local traditional food at the end of the presentation. Here is a little summary for those of you who are not familiar with the project:

One village and one hundred stories – Italy in the heart
Tasting a territory, giving a taste to the ‘genius loci’, the spirit of the place. Getting to know a village in the kitchen or in the “brown dinette”, listening to grandparents’ memories. Welcome unknown friends around the table. Try and make dough with our landladies (the original ‘sfogline’!) and learn the best recipes of the Italian tradition. And again, stroll through hamlets and castles along the tracks of forgotten stories, then make a tasty stop at the ‘circolo’ or the bar in the main square. Since 2005 all this, and much else, is “Un paese e cento storie”, the project to rediscover Italy, in your heart.

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La Dirce – testimonial of One Village and One Hundred Stories

The real ‘star’ of the afternoon though was La Dirce – the little red-haired lady updating the color of her apron every year, testimonial of our local hospitality – together with home-made savoury pies, cakes, crostate, pizzas, biscuits, bread sticks and jams made by the cooks of the ‘Dirce Network’. Rubem Alves wrote that ‘a meal is ‘the cook’s soul turned into food’. We strongly believe that a meal is much more than a meal. And La Dirce, the cook-mascot of the project (her name comes with the article, the way we do it here) knows it very well. That is why she is shown offering her guests a cake surmounted by a castle, hosting the soul and the thousand stories of our villages and their people.

I baked a savoury pie for the occasion with parmesan cheese, creamy cheese, ham, olives and nuts… and I will soon post the recipe (the easiest recipe on earth)!

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My savoury pie with parmesan cheese, green olives, ham and nuts

Going back to the title of the post, isn’t that true that if we take the right time to enjoy a meal (best if with friends or our loved ones) all 5 senses are involved? We do not eat just with our mouth but with our eyes as well (look at the beautiful three shades of green of the artichokes, zucchini and ‘Roman cabbage’ in the picture above!). We taste the food, of course, but we feel it with our hands too. The food smell is as tasty as the food, and what does ‘sharing food’ mean if not sharing tales, words, experiences (here hearing is involved too).

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International attendants enjoying local typical food (and tasting the real Italy!)

Well, this is what I mean when I talk about ‘tasting the real Italy’. However, I do believe that there is more to eating than simply nourishing ourselves. And I know that deep inside we all think, like Alves, that a ‘meal is the cook’s soul turned into food’ (or at least we all would like to have a seat at a table where people share not just the food but loving relations too).

As Rhonda writes: ‘…my preferred form of adrenaline rush is rustling up a meal on a Saturday and spending the evening with old comfortable friends,  talking late around the table.  What could be better than that?’

Nothing could be better than that. Nothing at all.

5 comments

  1. The food looks yummy! If you are promoting tourism of Italy by experiencing it at the local level and promoting it to Americans, you should not over look walking. Many Americans do not walk very much. So when they go on vacation to places that must be experienced on foot, they may end up too fatigued to enjoy the finer things like food and traditions and such. You may want to recommend to these would-be tourists that they walk daily for at least a month before leaving to Italy. They may be able to enjoy the trip much better.

    • Thank you, George, for your suggestion and for your comments to other posts on this blog. I guess I hadn’t thought about the fact that many Americans do not walk a lot. I guess it’s easier to walk when you live in a town whose historic centre is forbidden to cars! Besides, distances from one place to the other in Italy are so closer than in the USA!

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