what travellers can learn from chefs

Picture the professional taster diverting or shutting their eyes as they examine the contents of their mouth with tasting and smelling focus. They strive to discern the subtle flavours and textures, the passage of taste from initial impression to lingering sensations. It is what sets quality cuisine apart; the attention to detail, depth of flavour, texture, design on the plate ... It is bad form to hoover good food down without appreciating the skill of the chef.

So here we are in Italy where spectacularly interesting historical monuments, landscapes, statues, buildings and streets are ubiquitous. Our challenge is to slow down, to look up and around, not in the 'lost tourist kind of way' but in the 'appreciative diner kind of way'. As in good cooking, it is the things on the margins and the layers that are the difference between common (which can of course be hearty) and exquisite.  Walking down ancient laneways to get from A to B feels disrespectful. The rooflines, the balconies. If only buildings could tell their own stories of 'who?' and 'what?' over the centuries.

Hayd embracing the moment in the piazza at San Gimignano


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