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Savoring Italy

Text and photos by Estee Kafra

It was like driving through a postcard. I’d read about the steep curves and narrow lanes along the mountainous Southern Italian coastline, but nothing could prepare me for seeing the view myself. As we wound around the hills (thankfully, I wasn’t driving — I couldn’t keep my eyes off the vista), quaint villages of pastel-colored houses sprou ted between patches of towering rocky terrain, lush greenery, and glorious blue water. These were the piccolo città of Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, and Vietri sul Ma

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Even from the car, I could see the trademark glossy lemon trees dotting the countryside. The enticing sights and smells of our impromptu farm tour piqued my appetite for some delicious Italian fare. In Italy, food is more than just a way to stop your hunger. Food is an art. A meal is something to be savored. The ingredients are the celebrities, and cooking is the curtain rising on the large bandstand. The meal is a crescendo of everything melding together in astounding unison. Okay, I know this sounds like I am getting a bit carried away, but the Italians are serious about their food. And I knew, as soon as we planned the trip, that there was going to be no canned tuna on our menu! Not if I could help it. See, some people read travel guides and reviews about a country before they visit. I decided long ago that the only way to fully experience a country is by cooking and eating its food. In preparation for my trip, I read whatever books I could find on the regional cuisine and food trends. For instance, lemons are the standout ingredient on the Amalfi coast (no wonder!) and many tourist shops sell anything with a lemon motif, including hot stamped lemon logos. (Before we left, I had to buy a bottle of Limoncello, a popular lemon-flavored liqueur — it’s now my go-to liqueur for desserts and whipped creams.) I was setting myself up for quite a challenge, though. With all my research, I hadn’t been able to dig up any sign of Yiddishkeit in the Amalfi region, so all the work — including keeping my fellow travelers happy and satisfied — would fall on my shoulders. The key, I knew, would be planning ahead.

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