Collective recipes from a Venetian kitchen by Irene Machetti
Collective recipes from a Venetian Kitchen
For her Kitchen Takeover, Irene asked our social media community to send her a word – verb, colour, emotion, ingredient or country of origin. With these, she created three collective unconscious recipes that are shared with you here.
1. Sabbia a perdita d’occhio, tra le ultime colline e il mare — il mare — nell’aria fredda di un pomeriggio quasi passato, e benedetto dal vento che sempre soffia da nord.
La spiaggia. E il mare.
Potrebbe essere la perfezione – immagine per occhi divini – mondo che accade e basta, il muto esistere di acqua e terra, opera finita ed esatta, verità — verità — ma ancora una volta è il salvifico granello dell’uomo che inceppa il meccanismo di quel paradiso, un’inezia che basta da sola a sospendere tutto il grande apparato di inesorabile verità, una cosa da nulla, ma piantata nella sabbia, impercettibile strappo nella superficie di quella santa icona, minuscola eccezione posatasi sulla perfezione della spiaggia sterminata. A vederlo da lontano non sarebbe che un punto nero: nel nulla, il niente di un uomo e di un cavalletto da pittore.
(Alessandro Baricco, Oceano Mare)
Ocean. Ultramarine. Dream. Incense.
Smoked cod. A bed of chamomile mayonnaise. A crown of blue cornflowers.
The ocean is in the fleshy cod. Bacalau; memory of a summer holiday on the shores of Portugal. Listening to Fado; tasting that fish in all its variations; overlooking the ocean. The Ocean Sea.
The incense is in the smoke. The rice, burning. With the aromatic leaves of some black (I guess) tea. Forgotten, there, they started burning. The smoke enveloped the cod, physically, at first, and then it penetrated its soul, leaving it with an enduring taste. Plain rice and strong tea. Tea leaves as marine algae — the sea, the Ocean Sea…Ultramarine. The smoke almost became like a ritual — sacred fire, religious hymn, profane dance.
The dream is the chamomile. Infused in filtered water. Transformed into mayonnaise. The lightness of the chamomile flower, versus the density of the egg yolks.
Ultramarine is in the cornflower. Used since antiquity as an antidote against venom. And we know how much the world is poisoned right now.
According to the UN, an estimated 1/3 of all food is lost or wasted worldwide, as it moves from where it is produced to where it is eaten… even as more than 800 million people are undernourished. Food loss and waste globally costs up to $940 billion per year, whilst also being responsible for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If it were a country, food loss and waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the United States.
Food waste in households comprises the largest portion of the total FLW [Food Loss and Waste] in medium/high-income countries, mainly due to poor purchase planning, excessive cooking, overstocking, or misunderstanding the “best before” and “use by” dates 
In the European Union alone, about 38 million tonnes or 42% of the total food purchased, gets wasted in households.
Try buying directly from farmers (or the closest thing you know to it / can afford). Buy whole ingredients, even when they look ugly or intimidating. Use all of it.
Tepache is a traditional Mexican drink, originally made from corn — the name derives from the Náhuatl word Tepatti, meaning corn. You’ll find street vendors selling fresh Tepache all over the streets, often simply in a plastic bag with a straw.
Fermented drinks are generally full of probiotics (helping to create a healthy gut and microbiome). They are also rich in vitamins (including the very rare B12), and nutrients that reinforce our immune system. In addition, pineapple tepache has a high content of Vitamin C and ‘bromelian’, an enzyme which aids digestion.
Leave it to ferment 2-3 days and you’ll get a fizzy, (very) soft drink. One more day, and you’ll obtain a sense of alcohol. A week more, and you’ll end up with homemade vinegar. They are all worth a try [all measures and waiting-time vary depending on temperature, sugar quantities, humidity, etcetera.]
Feed and wait. Autolyse and wait. Ferment and wait. Fold. Wait. Fold. Wait. Fold. Wait. Tense. Wait. Tense. Wait. Shape. Wait. Bake. Wait. Eat. . . …
Bread is one of the most complex, time, temperature and dosage-sensitive recipes I know. It takes time, a lot of time to make it, and even more time to research and learn how to make it. Yet, it pays off every time. That’s why I chose it as my last recipe, to encapsulate the words serendipity, joy, generosity, love, togetherness, and bubble.
#Bubbles are fundamental— only when you see them surfacing, you know your ‘mother’ is ready to get to work. SO you feed her, and you wait. Every ‘mother’ takes its own time, so at each bake you need to stay there and look over her, waiting for the right moment.
Bread making requires a series of ingredients, processes, temperatures, and bacteria to work together, in a symbiosis. When they do, #serendipity comes. You’ll never really know how your bread is going to turn out until you find it in your mouth, but it usually doesn’t disappoint when it comes to taste.
Bread is #togetherness not only because of this symbiosis, but also because, in my experience, it brings people together. There is NOT ONE Italian table that doesn’t include bread amongst its forks and glasses. There is not a single communal meal that does not begin with a slice of bread. Not a single restaurant in Italy that doesn’t serve you bread at the table as soon as you sit down, and – the best part – that replenishes your bread basket, time and time again.
Finally, making bread is an act of love, especially for me. I don’t really eat bread, so I am spending days in the kitchen just so that my loved ones can enjoy it. Every time I bake it (which is as soon as one loaf ends), I bring slices of bread to various friends.
 “Sand as far as the eye can see, between the last hills and the sea — thesea — in the cold air of an afternoon almost past, and blessed by the wind that always blows from the north.
The beach. And the sea.
It could be perfection — an image for divine eyes — a world that happens, that’s all, the mute existence of land and water, a work perfectly accomplished, truth — truth — but once again it is the redeeming grain of a man that jams the mechanism of that paradise, a bagatelle capable on its own of suspending all that great apparatus of inexorable truth, a mere nothing, but one planted in the sand, an imperceptible tear in the surface of that sacred icon, a minuscule exception come to rest on the perfection of that boundless beach. To see him from afar he would be no more than a black dot: amid nothingness, the nothing of a man and a painter’s easel.”
(Alessandro Baricco, Oceano Mare)
 See also Charis Galanakis, Saving Food. Production, Supply Chain, Food Waste, and Food Consumption (2019).
 Koivupuro et al., ‘Influence of socio-demographical, behavioural and attitudinal factors on the amount of avoidable food waste generated in Finnish households’, International Journal of Consumer Studies (2012), 36 (2), 183191
 FUSIONS, 2015. Food Waste Data Set for EU-28. Wageningen University Publishing.
Irene is a freelance journalist, whose writing has appeared on Vanity Fair, Arteviste, The Courtauld News, Venezia News and other publications. She contributes regularly to FAD magazine, where she founded the column FOOD ART. Through interviews, collaborations, and participatory pieces, she explores the correlation between food and art, analysing the social and political meaning of these two spheres.
Irene obtained her BA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialized in Latin American contemporary art, with a dissertation on performance artist and poet Regina José Galindo. She also wrote extensively on Food Art, with a special focus on how artist Inês Neto dos Santos uses food as a medium for female artistic empowerment.
Irene donated 85% of her artist’s fee to charities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.