Each time I go for a walk on my island, my senses are overwhelmed. Aromas from all kind of herbs envelop me and take me back to my childhood. I am talking about the uniqueness and elemental quality of the things that shaped my development: the fragrance of grape must, of sun dried tomato paste, of the air under the plane trees, the smell of the first rain in September.
Whatever we experience for the first time, remains indelible in our memory, because as the paper of our lives is unwritten, it cannot hide its marks.
The past is evoked for me through family and traditional recipes. Cooking by the sea, beneath the grape arbor, in the mountains, in the wood-fired oven, on the gas camp stove and the electric range. I remember sowing tomatoes in the greenhouse for the new season as well as all the various ways of preparing them: tomato paste, with lemon and oil and even a sauce made with tomato leaves. It was sun-dried pomodoro however that gave this sauce its kick. Even a bland fish fillet came to life in this sauce and became savory. Another time, I recall the grown-ups toiling away at picking olives and how we, children too, had our “opportunity”. After we had been stooping for hours gathering those that had fallen to the ground, they fed us with a delightful dish to ease our fatigue and brighten our mood. An Octopus stew, hot and honey-sweet.
Memories come to life inside me. Memories – the smells of past years that are still here with me…
These memories lead me to reaffirm that authentic food pleases the eye and delights the soul.