Seated in the comfort of my home, I glimpse at the bookcase, undecided about what book to read. I don't want to start a new novel or essay, I just want to lazily leaf through a book I already know, so I grab 'Understanding a Photograph' by John Berger. This time, it is the chapter 'Appearances' to catch my attention, as it makes me think over my photography and photography in general.
The ingredients of photography are light and time and the act of photographing can be described as the one of capturing a moment. A photograph isolates and registers a specific interaction between light and time, disconnecting it from the normal flow of life. In itself, photographs don't have a meaning. According to Berger, in fact, 'meaning is not instantaneous, as it is discovered in what connects. [...] Certainty may be instantaneous, doubt requires duration; meaning is born of the two. An instant photographed can only acquire meaning in so far the viewer can read into it a duration extending beyond itself. When we find a photograph meaningful, we are lending it a past and a future.'
Photographs are irrefutable proofs of disconnected events that happened in a certain time and place. Yet they do not always tell the truth. Their nature is ambiguous, because they are at the same time a trace naturally left by something that has passed and man-made cultural constructions. [..] The photographer chooses what to include in the frame, the camera settings and so on, but he cannot intervene between the light and the imprint it makes on the film. It is said that cameras cannot lie because they imprint directly, but we are surrounded by publicities, which are consumerist lies. The camera can bestow authenticity upon any set of appearances, however false.
Let's take the pictures in this post. I have associated photos taken outside my house to the pictures of the recipe I'm sharing today: a vegetarian asparagus and zucchini tart. The pictures were taken in different days (but you see them at the same time). The first ones, on a sunny afternoon spent with my brother in Castello, visiting the peaceful cloister of Sant'Elena, the latter on a grey morning spent at home cooking. I chose to combine them because I believe that together they covey the simple, homey and warm atmosphere I want to recreate and share with you. In a way they represent the way I like to experience the world.
In themselves, they don't mean anything. But maybe you know Venice, or have been reading this blog for a while and kind of know me, hence you too add meaning to these pictures and envision a story. My hope is that when you see them, you feel transported into a cosy and friendly dimension and can appreciate the very normal aspects of this marvellous city I happen to live in, and possibly enjoy my recipes in your home, wherever it may be.
Anyway, going back to the pictures, if in the first case, I only chose where to go, what to frame and camera settings, in the second case I set a scene, used tripod and self-timer. What's sure is that the food in my photos is always real and I can give you my word that this tart was delicious. We accompanied it with a side radicchietto salad and some white wine, and I suggest you do the same.
Bye for now and buon appetito!
ASPARAGUS AND ZUCCHINI TART
Vegetarian, Easy, Spring
INGREDIENTS: - For the base:
250 gr whole wheat flour
100 ml water
70 ml e.v.o. oil
a pinch of salt
- For the filling
4 organic eggs
50 gr fresh ricotta
a little bit of milk
1/2 a batch of asparagus
3 small zucchini
- For the base:
1. In a bowl combine flour, water and oil, add a pinch of salt and knead using your hands. Form a ball, cover in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for 4 hours. If you are short of time, just pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes and another 10/20 in the fridge.
2. When dough ready, break in half and roll. (You won't need the entire dough, so use the rest to make a second tart or simple crostini with herbs like rosemary).
3. Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees, grease some parchment paper and, with a fork, apply some small holes on the short crust (so it does not bloat in the oven!).
- Chop asparagus and zucchini lengthwise, heat a pan, add oil and a crushed clove of garlic and when it starts popping, cook the veg at low/medium heat for about 6 minutes.
- In a cold steel bowl, break 4 organic eggs, add a pinch of salt, some pepper and whisk. Then add the ricotta, less than half a glass of milk, the veg and whisk again.
- Pour the filling onto the dough and bake for about 30/35 minutes.
Serve with a side of radicchietto salad, a glass of white wine and some slices of toasted black bread. Delicious!