SLOW: Life in a Tuscan Town

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A preview of my upcoming photography book coming this September from Welcome Books

A preview of my upcoming photography book coming this September from Welcome Books

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  • 1. slow DouGlaS GaYETon is a multimedia artist who has created award- winning work at the boundaries of traditional and converging media for slow national Geographic, PBS, Warner Brothers and Sony. Recent documentary projects include Lost In Italy, a series Gayeton created and directed for Fine life in a tuscan town living network, and Molotov Alva for HBo. Gayeton is also co-owner of life in a tuscan town laloos Goat’s Milk Ice Cream in Petaluma, California, where he lives on a farm with his wife, laura, and their daughter, Tuilerie. photo grAphs And text by alICE WaTERS is an internationally renowned chef and the co-owner d o u g l A s g Ay e t o n d o u g l a s g ay e t o n of Chez Panisse, the restaurant where she helped define California cuisine. by a passionate advocate of cooking with locally grown and seasonal A l Ic e wAt e r s ingredients, Waters has written several books on the subject, including IntroductIon by The Art of Simple Food (Clarkson Potter), and Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea cArlo petrInI prefAce by (Chronicle Books). She is the Founder of Slow Food nation, President e of the Chez Panisse Foundation, and an International Governor of Slow xploring the narrative boundaries of still photography Food International. propelled artist Douglas Gayeton on a remarkable journey CaRlo PETRInI is the founder of the Slow Food movement and author of discovery into the heart of hidden Tuscany. His magical of several books on the subject, including Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food portraits of rural Italians celebrate the rich cultural traditions Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair (Rizzoli). He is the Founder of the university associated with the simple everyday pleasures of growing, selling, of Gastronomic Sciences, and President of Slow Food International. preparing, and eating food. Gayeton provides an absorbing first person account of his transformative immersion in this rarely Giuseppina’s Hands. glimpsed world, offering an intimacy that carries us deeper into front Cover: Conosco I Miei Polli [I Know My Chickens]. baCk Cover: the images. With an anecdotal charm reminiscent of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, and the visual vitality of Peter Beard’s collage Edited by Katrina Fried journals, Slow’s interplay of pictures and words conveys a thrilling Designed by Gregory Wakabayashi sense of narrative that transcends the page and transports you 176 pages, 11quot; x 13quot; (landscape) halfway around the globe. 100 sepia toned tritone images, 8 gatefolds acetate jacket & 3 acetate tip-ins printed with text from Gayeton’s imaginative and interactive photographs are layered underlying images Includes approximately 20 authentic Tuscan recipes with handwritten notes, anecdotes, recipes, quotes, historical facts Hardcover, $50.00 ($62.00 Can) and sayings that cleverly bring context and color to the subject of ISBn: 978-1-59962-072-5 on sale: September 2009 each sepia toned image and draw us deeper into this romantic and rustic world. You will fall in love with the region’s kaleidoscope PHoToGRaPHY/FooD of charming local characters: the mushroom hunters and sheep Published by Welcome Books® farmers, the winemakers and fisherman, the bakers and butchers an imprint of Welcome Enterprises, Inc. whose lives are profoundly bound to the rhythms of nature and 6 West 18th Street new York, nY 10011 inherently exemplify the popular principles that define Slow tel: 212.989.3200 Food, an international movement dedicated to preserving local fax: 212.989.3205 food traditions and honoring local farmers and producers. www.welcomebooks.com To place orders in the u.S., please contact Each photograph is titled with a traditional Italian saying and your local Random House sales representative, or call Random House customer service, toll-free: (800) 733-3000. Eastern and “These photographs are rich and undeniably authentic, and could only have its English translation (e.g. Meglio Spendere Soldi Dal Macellaio Che Central accounts: Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. –5:00 p.m. (EST); Dal Farmacista: “Better to spend money at the butcher than the Western accounts: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. –6:00 p.m. (EST) been made by someone with the deep sensitivity and understanding that goes pharmacist”). The rich use of language intertwines the literal To place orders in Canada, contact your local Random House with the figurative, resulting in a photographic approach critics beyond the boundaries of nations and languages, and represents the principles sales representative, or call (888) 523-9292, Monday–Friday, have dubbed the “flat film.” It is a riveting story told in a riveting 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (EST). way: each image is actually comprised of multiple photographs at the heart of the Slow Food movement.” Copyright © 2009 Welcome Enterprises, Inc. taken over a period of time, ranging anywhere from ten minutes Photographs and text copyright © 2009 by Douglas Gayeton to several hours. With this process, Gayeton has managed to —Carlo Petrini, Founder of the Slow Food movement This is an uncorrected proof. introduce the concept of time, both compressed and exploded, A l Ic e wAt e r s cArlo petrInI into his photographs. The result is exhilarating, and marvelously Printed in China IntroductIon by prefAce by complemented by Gayeton’s compelling personal tale. To learn more about Slow and see a preview of the book, please visit: www.welcomebooks.com/slow
  • 2. I t ’ s C a r av a g g I o ’ s F a u l t o r t I m e ( W hy I C o m p r e s s e d a thousand photographs Into a sIngle moment ) This book began wiTh a single phoTograph Taken over a Typical event, so they were used to seeing a camera in my hands. But when we Tuscan lunch in Pistoia, Italy, one January afternoon. Like most people, I gathered on this particular day, I didn’t take one or two pictures…I took owned a camera, and as a filmmaker, I had more than a passing interest in nearly a thousand. The more I photographed, the less they seemed to photography. I liked the immediacy of photographs, but they also left too notice. It was as if my camera became invisible. Afterwards I studied much out. What my eyes saw was always grander than any lens could cap- dozens of images of Ombretta’s mother and father, of their children ture. Its deficiency mainly had to do with the concept of time. Films were and grandchildren, all collected around that dinner table. I compared stories based on sequences of events—an arc, with beginning, middle, gestures and expressions, searching for the precise moment that de- and end set tumbling through time; photographs were frozen instants, fined who each of them were, not only alone, but in relationship to one capturing no more than what could be seen in the blink of an eye. How another. It was a giant puzzle, one that when finally assembled became could I introduce the presence of time, of an emerging and evolving story a single snapshot of an entire afternoon spent together. It essentially comprised of not one, but many moments, into a single photograph? collapsed time into what appeared to be a single moment—but one that During the years Ombretta and I were together in Italy, her family never actually happened. made me the designated photographer of every celebration or shared Sunrise at Paolo’s. View over Pistoia.
  • 3.  
  • 4. put tIng LA MADRE In a Jar The True sTarT of my slow food educaTion came one spring when I met Daria. She was the cook at a Villa Celle, an estate outside Pistoia that featured one of the largest environmental art collections in Europe. She taught me how to find insalata di campo, not your typical five-dollar bag of mesclun but instead wild salads picked in the nearby hills, mostly in olive groves where pesticides still were not used. When selecting plants she was always careful to pull up the entire root. She used it along with the leaves. The results were earthy, nutty, brimming with life. I returned to the Villa often that spring. One afternoon, Daria’s husband revealed the family’s most prized possession, kept in the cel- lar behind boxes of old magazines: a coppa [ceramic urn] filled with vinegar. The secret was at the bottom. A deep crimson mudlike substance called la madre. Over two hundred years old, this prized heirloom had been passed from one generation to the next. The madre functioned as a “starter”. Wine was continually added to the coppa. It reacted with the madre, resulting in an endless supply of table vinegar. All attempts to secure enough of their madre to start my own vinegar were respectfully rebuked until the day I showed up with a pho- tograph I’d taken of Daria. They proudly pinned it to the wall, handed me an empty jar, and led me down to the cellar. La madre is added to wine to make vinegar.  
  • 5. C u l I n a r y r o a d t r I p s o r F at while i reTurned To pieTrasanTa ofTen, osTensibly To shooT still lifes in Cervietti’s attic, what I really came for was the mandatory stop at Colonnata in the nearby foothills to buy lardo, a Tuscan delicacy made from the fatback of local pigs that was salted, rubbed with herbs, then aged for six months in vats of solid Carrara marble. Its flavor was buttery, and when placed on schiacciata [flat bread] fresh from the oven, the lardo turned translucent. One of my greatest Tuscan pleasures derived from inventing reasons to embark upon such culinary-inspired road trips. I visited one Chianti vineyard to buy wine by the case only because it required taking a series of axle-bending strade bianche [literally the while lines on an Italian map meant to signify dirt roads]. I went to one chee- semaker to buy sardo [a pecorino from Sardegna], and another to get wheels of Pistoia pecorino. Some butchers were known for their salami. Others had better prosciutto or coppa. I developed fierce loyalties to the merchants and artisans I frequented, and discovered that knowing where their food came from deeply impacted what I chose to buy and eat. Wheels of pecorino cheese made from raw sheep’s milk.  
  • 6. KIllIng the pIg or my shoes are CaKed WIth Blood ( a C t u a l ly, I t h r e W t h e m aW ay ) a few days laTer paTrizio and i seT ouT before dawn for The Town the morning but they needed a few glasses of wine before getting to work. of Rosia, near Siena. Patrizio knew a man who raised cinta senese pigs. The This gave me a chance to tell them what I was doing: Over the next two cinta are big eaters and produce lots of fat. Feed is expensive, and when days, I wanted to document every step in the killing and breaking down fat went out of style in the eighties, most people stopped raising the pigs. of a pig. I said this abstractly, having never actually seen an animal killed Farmers like Guido still kept a few on their property, and on cold winter before. Five minutes later I had. mornings like this, a butcher came to do his work. As with nearly every- As the day came to a close the workbench consisted of three large thing else related to agricultural life, slaughtering an animal at home was piles. One for fat scraps. One for meat scraps. And a third for choice cuts heavily regulated, but one of Italy’s charms is that while it’s an incredibly of pork. Thick slabs of fatback were neatly stacked at the end of the table. bureaucratic country with a staggering number of laws, most people don’t And in the end, nothing was left. The entire pig had been transformed seem to pay much attention to them. Which is why I was given a rope into something else. Even the pig’s skin was cut into greasy strips and and told to lead a cinta from its stall, across a paddock and into the barn. tied with string. Villagers would use it later to polish their shoes. Sadly, It was there I met Domenico and Sabatino, the two butchers. They tied the concept of using the whole animal was borne out of the economic the pig up then took me to a kitchen in the farmhouse. It was six-thirty in necessities of another time. None of these considerations apply to today’s generation. Most of them no longer eat coppa, not to mention migliaccio. And so one day this rich culinary knowledge and its attendant culture will disappear forever. I decompressed in Patrizio’s car while driving back to Pistoia. We passed Siena in a red twilight gone gray then black. Before we reached Certosa my mind was already enveloped in that uncertain darkness; im- ages from the day played out repeatedly in my head. Everything came with a story. Even a slice of meat. The farther you traveled from the source, the more you forgot that. When I got back to my flat I stripped off my clothes in the doorway then spent an hour under a scalding hot showerhead, scrubbing my skin until the water heater finally gave out. As for my boots, I never wore them again.  
  • 7. Killing the Pig or My ShoeS are CaKed with Blood ( a C t u a l ly, i t h r e w t h e M aw ay ) A few dAys lAter PAtrizio And i set out before dAwn for the town the morning but they needed a few glasses of wine before getting to work. of Rosia, near Siena. Patrizio knew a man who raised cinta senese pigs. The This gave me a chance to tell them what I was doing: Over the next two cinta are big eaters and produce lots of fat. Feed is expensive, and when days, I wanted to document every step in the killing and breaking down fat went out of style in the eighties, most people stopped raising the pigs. of a pig. I said this abstractly, having never actually seen an animal killed Farmers like Guido still kept a few on their property, and on cold winter before. Five minutes later I had. mornings like this, a butcher came to do his work. As with nearly every- As the day came to a close the workbench consisted of three large thing else related to agricultural life, slaughtering an animal at home was piles. One for fat scraps. One for meat scraps. And a third for choice cuts heavily regulated, but one of Italy’s charms is that while it’s an incredibly of pork. Thick slabs of fatback were neatly stacked at the end of the table. bureaucratic country with a staggering number of laws, most people don’t And in the end, nothing was left. The entire pig had been transformed seem to pay much attention to them. Which is why I was given a rope into something else. Even the pig’s skin was cut into greasy strips and and told to lead a cinta from its stall, across a paddock and into the barn. tied with string. Villagers would use it later to polish their shoes. Sadly, It was there I met Domenico and Sabatino, the two butchers. They tied the concept of using the whole animal was borne out of the economic the pig up then took me to a kitchen in the farmhouse. It was six-thirty in necessities of another time. None of these considerations apply to today’s generation. Most of them no longer eat coppa, not to mention migliaccio. And so one day this rich culinary knowledge and its attendant culture will disappear forever. I decompressed in Patrizio’s car while driving back to Pistoia. We passed Siena in a red twilight gone gray then black. Before we reached Certosa my mind was already enveloped in that uncertain darkness; im- ages from the day played out repeatedly in my head. Everything came with a story. Even a slice of meat. The farther you traveled from the source, the more you forgot that. When I got back to my flat I stripped off my clothes in the doorway then spent an hour under a scalding hot showerhead, scrubbing my skin until the water heater finally gave out. As for my boots, I never wore them again. 8
  • 8. a r C I g l I a n o o r I s ta r e at a p o t o F B o I l I n g W at e r (For tWo hours) my oldesT friend in pisToia, paolo caprilli, lived on a hill a few kilometers from town, in a village called Arcigliano. Paolo had an azienda agricola, which essentially meant he made olive oil and wine, like most families on the surrounding hills. Paolo also had a vegetable gar- den that supplied food to a little restaurant run by his friend, Patrizio. La Bottega del Poggio had only eight tables and no menu. Nor did it have a phone, which was amazing considering the restaurant only prepared enough food for whoever made reservations. Essentially, you had to know Patrizio’s cell phone number to get a table, but even that didn’t insure success because he rarely answered his phone. Fortunately, I knew Paolo, and he often brought me there to eat. The food was exceptional, so good, in fact, that I finally persuaded Patrizio to take me on in his kitchen. Sure, he said. We’ll start in the morning. And that’s how I ended up working in a Tuscan restaurant. Patrizio never had a set menu. It evolved during the morning as he traveled from butcher to vegetable market to baker. He made note of what was in season and available, and built his menu accordingly. And since he only bought according to the number of reservations he’d taken for dinner that night, on the marble counter. I had no idea what came next. Simona, a Romanian just in case. Unfortunately, when Patrizio counted and saw I’d made too I spent the next two hours—when not bussing tables and washing the shopping became a complex and potentially risky proposition. At the girl in the kitchen, watched me in silence, then grabbed a bag of semolina, many, he got on the phone and invited four friends to dinner. dishes—standing over a boiling pot, easing each tortello into the water. I beginning I stressed over whether we’d run out of food or have too much added it to the flour, pulled a basket of eggs from the fridge, cracked five As the first guests arrived, Patrizio stuck his head in the kitchen door even placed a large spatula between each one, like a barrier. Somehow I left. But then much in those early days stressed me, as exemplified by my of them over the flour, and started kneading. By the end of the afternoon and told me to put six tortelloni on. Then, as an afterthought, he added had the idea that if one broke this improvised technique would contain first night in the kitchen. she’d shown me how to not only work a pasta machine but also prepare that if I’d left any air pockets in them they’d explode in the water and the damage. Patrizio told me to make pasta for eighteen. That I’d never made pasta the bietola [beet] and ricotta stuffing that went inside. At the end of the probably burst the others. Since we had  reservations and only  tortel- Miraculously, I got through dinner without breaking a single tortelloni. before meant nothing to him. In fact, he upped the ante. He decided I’d afternoon I was the proud maker of eighteen tortelloni, and an extra four, loni, if even just one broke we’d be short ... and I’d be fired. I had a job. be making tortelloni [stuffed pasta] instead. I took some flour and poured it 1 1
  • 9. CooKIng ZoLfini In a FlasK or a mushroom the sIze oF a soCCer Ball sauro owned a fruiT and vegeTable sTand a shorT walk from my Sauro’s long standing relationships with local farmers meant he always flat. Most mornings, after stopping for an espresso and scanning the lat- had things first. Tartufi bianchi [white truffles] the size of golf balls from San est soccer gossip in La Gazzetta Dello Sport, I‘d check in with Sauro. He Miniato; bags of tiny zolfini beans from Pratomagno; boxes of funghi porcini was the first person to impress upon me the importance of eating local [porcini mushrooms] directly from secret sources in the neighboring hills. seasonal foods. In December, Sauro had cavalo nero [black cabbage). Janu- Whenever I asked to join his mushroom buying expeditions, Sauro went ary meant tarocchi [oranges from Sicily]. In early spring, wild salads, and uncharacteristically silent. This was serious business, and his connections in June, cherries. didn’t want publicity. But I was persistent. Finally it was his wife, Assunta, Aside from selling vegetables, Sauro offered lots of advice. For in- who decried that I had to be taken along. So one early afternoon we set off stance, he maintained—because Sauro had strong beliefs about practical- in his covered truck for La Montagna Pistoiese. ly everything—that Tuscan beans could only be cooked in a special glass I fungaioli [mushroom hunters] were a strange, solitary breed. To flask [fagioli al fiasco]. When I failed to find one in town, he insisted I take conceal their secret foraging grounds they worked mostly at night, with his. The recipe was simple. Into the flask went two few handfuls of dried only the moonlight to guide them. From late August through mid Octo- beans, enough water to cover them, a generous swirl of olive oil, two gar- ber, the hills were filled with Tuscans in search of i porcini. For some, it lic cloves, fresh sage, and salt. After simmering over a very low flame for a was a weekend excursion. For others, mainly those with closely-guarded few hours the beans were removed and ready to serve. The origins of the knowledge passed down from their elders, it was an extremely lucrative dish date back to the 100s, when Tuscans would fill Chianti bottles with profession. In two or three months a seasoned fungaio could make more beans and water, and leave them to cook overnight snuggled against their than a typical carpenter working an entire year. fire’s slowly cooling embers. In the morning they ate beans for breakfast. Most fungaioli were paranoid, and went to great lengths to protect I wasn’t the only one to benefit from Sauro’s teachings. Even Ma- their identities from Sauro. He made anonymous deals with middlemen rio Batali, who did his restaurant apprenticeship a few kilometers north in the backrooms of bars and restaurant kitchens. On this trip we even in Granaglione, had written about Sauro’s influence. Whenever Ameri- met the apparent relative of a fungaio at the end of a long dead-end road. cans wandered into the shop, Sauro pulled out Batali’s book and flipped While I waited in the car, the mushrooms were weighed, and Sauro made through its dog-eared pages until he landed on the one with his picture. his payment from a wad of Euro notes wrapped with a rubber band. As we approached the town of Cutigliano, Sauro slowed his truck, and informed me that our next stop was at the home of his biggest fungaia. I was to stay quiet. As for my camera, it was better left in the truck. A few kilometers later we passed through a small village set against the base of the mountain and stopped at a recently completed home. This was where Imperia lived, in a house entirely paid for by mushrooms. Sauro is a fixture in La Sala, Pistoia’s open air food market. 1 1
  • 10. let ’s g o BaCK In tIme a FeW years or h oW I e n d e d u p I n p I s t o I a o r P o S S o AV E R E U n P o ’ D i P A n E ? i firsT moved To florence in The eighTies, and some years laTer looked familiar. When was the photograph taken? he asked. Maybe forty years met Ombretta and moved to her home town of Pistoia. But my connec- ago, I replied. Oh, then maybe it’s Amato Sala, he decided. tion to Italy goes back much further. My grandmother, my father’s mother, Amato lived beside another bar a few kilometers away, but when I was born in a village called Camposanto, near Modena. Like many Italian got there everyone agreed that the man in the picture wasn’t him. Amato emigres from that region, she settled in San Francisco just after the earth- was nearly eighty and the man in the picture was much younger. I at- quake in 10, then went north, where she planted a vineyard with my tempted to explain that the photograph was old, then just gave up and grandfather in Fulton, a town near the Russian River in Northern Cali- asked where Amato lived. The entire bar followed me across the road fornia. As a child I spent many Sundays there lunching on homemade to a modest stone house. Amato opened his door to find a large crowd pastas and meat sauces that had literally simmered for days. Come harvest gathered outside. He looked to be nearly ninety years old and the sight of time each September we would be in the vineyard, picking grapes. so many people made him visibly anxious. I showed him the photo and While my mother had maintained ties with her Spanish aunts and said it was of my great grandmother’s nephew and his wife. While I saw uncles still living in Secadura, a Galician village near Santander, we’d lost a resemblance, Amato insisted it wasn’t them, and he wouldn’t hear any all track of the Italians on my father’s side. I had just one photograph of arguments to the contrary. Besides, he said, my wife has white hair and a man we believed was the last remaining member of that family. One the woman in this picture has black hair. That the photograph was forty morning I resolved to find out what happened to him. years old, and that her hair could’ve changed in the intervening years, did Translated literally, “Camposanto” means holy ground. It’s also a name nothing to change his mind. for a cemetery, which pretty much describes what I found. A flat, utterly The beautiful thing about Italian peasants is that even after cases of desolate area dotted every few kilometers with peasant farms. mistaken identity, their sense of social grace requires them to offer you I stopped at the first one, found a man working on his tractor, and a glass of something. Perhaps a slice of salami and bread to go with it. showed him the photograph. He enthusiastically pointed at a series of Maybe even some pecorino. Which is exactly what happened. I was in- houses across the road. Could it be that easy? I knocked on the door. Two vited inside and we toasted my quest, which in Amato’s mind was still elderly women looked at the photograph, nodded gravely, then replied incomplete. Amato’s wife remained silent, though she did produce a bat- that they had no idea who the people in the picture were. tered cardboard box filled with photographs of his family, as if their sheer Over the next two hours I went from house to farm to flower shop to volume, and the stories each told would clarify that our lives were abso- church. People were either convinced they knew the family—or certain lutely not connected. they no longer lived in Camposanto. Every lead turned into a dead end. I learned about people who had died in both wars. Farms owned I stopped at a bar and showed everyone the photo. No luck. Then a and lost. Family emigrating to L’America (but not San Francisco). Births, man reading a newspaper got up and took the snapshot out of my hands. deaths, and even marriages. He held up one photograph, an aunt he’d After studying it carefully he announced that the man’s face indeed never met. It was a photograph of my grandmother on her wedding day. Was this man the last remaining member of the Cattabriga family? 1 1
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