It was our last meal in Rome. We were the only couple in the restaurant not speaking Italian. There were rows and rows of wine bottles above our heads that the waiters had to grab with an iron hook. We had been walking in the heat of the day for hours, and suddenly the coolness of night gave way to relief, as we drank sparkling water that was ice cold and crisp wine. After a few days of devouring Italian pasta (when in Rome, right?), the waiter brought me the most beautiful salad I’d ever seen. Everything on the plate was fresh. The flavors were vivid and bright in my mouth. The company of my husband was electrifying and comforting all at once. I wanted to sop up the musical Italian accents around me like my homemade bread drenched in olive oil. I didn’t want dinner to end.
I have become quite a ‘foodie’ in the past few years. I think it has something to do with being able to relax and enjoy food as a gift – especially in the midst of my travels.
I took a trip overseas last year that bordered on life changing for me. It has always been a dream of mine to travel through Europe, and though I have been lucky enough to travel to many other places on the globe – I never saw a stitch of Europe until last spring.
I found along with my pictures of piazzas and mountaintops, I also couldn’t stop photographing the food. I was trying to capture beauty, yes, but also I think I was attempting to preserve on film the memories those meals held for me. Moments in time when inhaling the scent of homemade pizza baking in a piazza was not just a scene I saw in a movie, but an experience.
Here are some of my favorite foodie photos from my travels, along with sense memories to the best of my remembrance.
I woke up and felt like I was still in a dream. The view of the Tuscan countryside seemed even more beautiful than the books I’d read. Though it was almost summer, our small room encased in stone was cool and breezy without air conditioning. I walked outside with sleep still in my eyes, and inhaled a deep breath of fresh air. My husband and I fixed a simple breakfast in our small kitchenette. The strawberries were vibrantly red, and as sweet as their color. The croissant was store bought, but tasted like it had been baked in our oven. The salty, earthy flavor of thinly sliced Italian salami became the perfect addition to our Tuscan breakfast. I was convinced the beauty of the cobalt glass made my milk taste even creamier. We ate in the peaceful silence, overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.
The night we dined behind the Roman Colosseum felt otherworldly. We had just walked on and through 1000 years old ruins, and suddenly found ourselves in a quaint restaurant mostly reserved for locals and college students. I ordered a dish I’d always wanted to eat in Italy. When my plate of bruschetta was placed before me, I was dazzled by the fact that simple red tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Modena and olive oil from a local vineyard could be so beautiful. The crisp green leaflets of arugula gave my simple plate even more texture and peppery flavor. I ate my “broo-skeht-ah” (as our sweet waiter luxuriously said, rolling his Italian R’s) with both hands, and the juice streamed through my fingers.
I’d been dreaming about Paris’ culinary delights for years. On the hunt for a meal that didn’t require piles of Euros, we crossed the main avenue to a smaller side street. Spitting rain fell from a cloudy, gray sky. The outside marquee of the restaurant in our guide book was nothing special. Walking through the front door felt like stepping from black and white into technicolor. The warm light, the mid-century decor and the paintings on the wall were classically Parisian. The menu was simple, earthy comfort food. I order boeuf bourgignon, and was thrilled when the server graciously offered to leave out my least favorite ingredient of pearl onions. My senses were overwhelmed in the best way by the luxuriousness of the broth and creamy mashed potatoes. The meat and vegetables were perfectly tender. I felt like Julia Child herself was in the kitchen and had prepared my meal. After I returned home, I discovered the Polidor was the restaurant where they filmed the Hemingway scene in Woody Allen’s film, Midnight In Paris. I saw our perfect table when I watched the movie again, and travelled back in time to my favorite meal in France.
That’s how it felt, like we were a part of something lovely and otherworldly, not like we went to a place but like we were a part of a thing–a rich and gorgeous thing, a happening, a moment in time that we’d keep with us all our lives….
Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine
It was a great surprise to me that Rome was my favorite European city. It must have been in part because of the Trevi Fountain. And gelato. As we navigated the Roman alleyways, we practically stumbled upon the Trevi. Suddenly, we were facing the statue head on, beholding the white marble triton like an altar before us. Around the perimeter of the fountain, crowds spilling out of shops seemed to be flowing down the steps to throw their coins into the waters with the hopes of returning to Rome. The gelato shop, facing the magnificent triumphal arches, had every color and flavor of cold creaminess on display to lure man, woman and child in its doors for a distinctly Italian treat.
We slurped our cones full of creamy chocolate and whip cream as we listened to the rushing water of the fountain, and the cacophony of languages in the piazza. I’d never had ice cream of any kind that could match the velvety chocolate in that cone. Later that day, and throughout our time in Italy, we sampled all sorts of glorious gelato flavors–pistachio and amaretto; stracciatella and hazelnut. But that first treat, that sweet gift at the Trevi Fountain, was my favorite.
Do you consider yourself a foodie?
Where have you eaten some of your favorite meals?