Cookbooks are a fabulous way to indulge your Armchair Travel dreams. An ethnic cookbook, especially one with travel photos, can transports you to a favorite place or to one where you wish to journey.
Browsing my favorite Italian cookbooks brought back many fabulous memories.
- An evening in Roma with a friend, who also loved pasta. We ordered antipasti and pasta, telling the waiter we’d order the main course after the pasta. The pasta (my favorite, Spaghetti Carbonara) was incredible. When the waiter returned, my friend and I looked at each other, laughed and promptly ordered more pasta!
- A friend (of Italian descent) in California making a marvelous Zabaione (Marsala Custard). We recounted a recent journey to Italy as we indulged.
- An Italian friend in NYC who makes the most incredible pasta, and other Italian dishes. I am getting hungry thinking of her masterpieces.
- Walking with a friend late at night in Roma, getting lost, but eventually finding a favorite restaurant, Tre Scalini, in Piazza Navona and enjoying a magnificent meal.
- Having lunch with friends in Bologna where they assured me that Bologna had the very best Italian food and wine.
- Enjoying dinner in Venice and discovering that St Mark’s Square was flooded. Walking back to the hotel with friends, climbing on chairs that were set up to walk across the Square .. (cane chairs with arms .. not easy to go from one to another…) I ruined a good pair of boots as several of us finally decided to wade through the water. We had lots of brandy when we finally got back to the hotel. Good lesson — always check weather and local conditions before going out.
- Walking about Roma and Venice are always serendipitous … you encounter hidden courtyards, side-streets to explore and terrific restaurants off the beaten path.
These books capture Italian food and scenery spectacularly.
Preparing an Italian meal with Italian vino conveys me to a favorite country. Other times, it’s enjoyable to go to a favorite Italian restaurant, appreciating the ambiance and cuisine.
Being an armchair traveler means being creative and enjoying your destination. Pick a country or city — learn a few words of the language, fix a dinner or have a party with that country’s cuisine. Have your guests bring a dish from the country. Play that country’s music.
Most important, have fun and be inventive as you “journey” to a favorite spot … even if for now, it is but a dream.
Buon Appetito …
Savor your journeys… real and imagined, near or far.