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Venetian Food and Culture

Posted by on April 5, 2018

Any viewers of another culture take snapshots or impressions that they contextualise using their own cultural biases. For Australians, European culture generally seems so exotic, with such a history of culinary tradition and art history to draw upon it is little wonder we perceive the richness with awe and wonder.

When we travel, we like to mix self-catering with meals out. Generally we rent accommodation that has a kitchen, close to markets and providores so we can buy fresh local produce and cook it.

We both have sweet tooths and seek out regional treats also. In Italy generally we search for Dolce and Gelato, both of which are must haves in our opinion. 

Venice is surrounded by estuary and ocean, so seafood is a must, and we have had squid-ink stewed cuttlefish, John Dory, mussels, vongole and spaghetti and more this visit coupled with wine, bread and  generous bon homie that is the welcoming Venetian way. We have dined in Osterias, munched crostini opposite gondola boatyards, sampled tramezzini (domed sandwiches) in a warm cafe when raining outside, nibbled almond biscuits while walking around back alleys and sipped Italian hot chocolate to fortify ourselves against the clawing cold – all wonderful, all different.

We have also tried cooking new things this time round. We bought scampi from the market, flash fried them with garlic and parsley – delicious as a meal on asparagus risotto- fresh ingredients sourced that morning. We must try cooking mussels, both having enjoyed eating them in restaurants, simple preparation, delicious and fresh.

We have also wandered into galleries and museums this visit, not having the time last time here. We are housed just across the canal from the Peggy Guggenheim collection, and visited on Max Ernst’s birthday (a one-time husband of Peggy who later left her for another artist she introduced him to).

The collection is diverse but themed to clearly show seminal artists influence on each other. We see Max Ernst being influenced by Dali, Picasso by Mondrian and many rare, beautiful works all in the one place – just amazing. The collection of Pollock’s alone is amazing.

We had booked a tour of “La Fenice” (The Phoenix), one of Europe’s finest Opera Houses. Jo had also, secretly, tried to score me tickets to “Madamme Butterfly” which has just opened but alas our only night possible it was already booked out, we decided not to hunt out scalpers as regular tickets were €300 or more per seat, still, you can dream. We did the audio tour of the theatre, saw them setting lights and a lovely rolly lead tenor rehearsing blocking for the wedding scene.

The auditorium is breathtaking, gloriously decorated, we sat in one of the royal boxes for what seemed like ages, so magical. It is named “The Phoenix” because there is very little (apart from much of the foyer) that is original, there has been a series of fires that has caused almost complete rebuilds, the most recent in the 1970s.

So much to see and do, we thankfully had time to sample some of the delights, new and old. This is a jumbled post but it is difficult to know which of the experiences we have had to include.

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