August 18, 2019

Messina, Sicily. October, 2012


Takeout pizza. Popular the world around. But somehow it seemed funny to see this discarded pizza box left on the street here in Sicily. You’ll notice, as I did, that the entire pie had been consumed. 

August 17, 2019

New York, NY. December, 2012


Part of our excellent Boxing Day lunch at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria was this serving of fried rabbit, which Nick and I polished off in no time flat. I was reminded, when I came across the photo today, of my late friend Dali’s food category: “Too cute to eat.” Among her forbidden items: rabbit, veal, duck, lamb and a few others I can’t remember. Fortunately I’ve never subscribed to this way of thinking.

August 16, 2019

Istanbul. June, 2007


It was here in the Spice Bazaar that I found what I’d been looking for: Urfa or Isot pepper. Made from a dark purple Anatolian pepper that’s dried in the sunlight on rooftops during the day, sweated under covers at night, the pepper is then ground and looks like this dark brown spice you see here. I brought some home from my first trip to this magical city. And I loved it so much, I brought home six times as much when I visited again four years later. It adds a little bit of heat and a lot of subtle smokiness to every dish I use it in. I’m running low. May have to schedule another trip.

August 15, 2019

Portoferraio, Elba, Italy. October, 2012


As my Italian friend Antonio from Lucca once reminded me when I’d questioned why we were seeing so many prostitutes hanging out near bridges in a devoutly Catholic country like Italy: “In Italy, we have the pope...and Cicciolina.” And, he seemed to imply, most Italians waver somewhere in between. I am not drawn to any organized faith myself, but I do like to see outward manifestations of others’ devotion as I travel through Italy. Like this one on the island of Elba. It was on the outside of a wall surrounding a military installation. Far from any bridges.

August 14, 2019

Venice, Italy. October, 2012


No one shows off quite like Venice does. Just look at that ceiling in the Basilica of San Marco, the Byzantine church originally the chapel of the Doge and begun in the year 832. Layer upon layer of rich detail. All that glitter is mosaic tile, much of it glass backed by gold. But then again, they had a lot to prove. Not only was the city one of the wealthiest in the world, but the Church had to impress all those followers who couldn’t read and relied on the narratives to instruct them in the stories of the bible. Could they really see them that far up on the ceiling?

August 13, 2019

Paris. December, 2005


No doubt about it. Those French are particular about their food. Here at the Bastille market in Paris, it was December 29, and these Parisians were scooping up their oysters for New Year’s Eve. How many types of oysters are available in your fish market? Thought so. Look at the many different kinds here. Don’t forget the lemons.

August 12, 2019

Segovia, Spain. October, 2009


We arrived here early one morning on the fast train from Madrid. Long before the tourist buses poured into town, we had the place almost to ourselves. And one of the things we learned as we toured the palace where Columbus approached Ferdinand and Isabella with that crazy scheme of his: Segovia, situated as it is on a steep promontory overlooking the plains all about, was a natural place for a fortress. The early Roman settlers knew that the only necessity it lacked was water. Hence the construction this aqueduct from the Fuente Fría river 20 miles away. Solid and lasting, it’s undergone periodic reconstructions and is still in use today, some 2000 years later.