A Word About Food: An evening with Giulia Scarpaleggia and Tessa Kiros
By Daria Radler
Whether you’re merely visiting or actually living in Tuscany: It is impossible not to be swept off your feet by the very particular food culture that gently takes you by the hand and leads you to the nearest market or straight into a kitchen filled with an abundance of colours and appealing flavours. If you’re anything like the rest of us your mind will jump to the obvious questions: How can I recreate this food on my own? Who comes up with these recipes? How do I get my hands on them?
Well, as with most things in life, there’s only one way to find out!
Stories behind a cookery book — a talk with food writers Giulia Scarpaleggia and Tessa Kiros
- some heaping tablespoons of curiosity
- two treasure chests full of memories
- two eyes for detail
- two teaspoons of bravery
- a shared cup of friendship
- a dash of international seasoning
- a healthy dose of intuition
- an animated appetite
- an extra chilli to spice things up
- Invite Giulia Scarpaleggia and Tessa Kiros to St. Mark’s Church in Florence.
- Set up three chairs in front of a room full of food-enthusiastic listeners.
- Let moderator David Orr “grill” these two fascinating women about life, food, photography, and writing.
The full course meal might be served in a total of fifteen cookery books shared between these two writers, but the hour-long talk on a fine Thursday evening in Florence certainly made for a great appetiser!
Observations filtered by intuition
Giulia Scarpaleggia and Tessa Kiros’s lives started in quite a different fashion. Giulia was born and bred in Tuscany, living in and around her family home among those endless rolling hills between Florence and Siena. Tessa, born to a Finnish mother and a Greek father in London, grew up in South Africa. Though their roots are essentially different, Giulia and Tessa live just eight kilometres apart today. In fact, their friendship already goes back eleven years — back to when Giulia first wrote to Tessa: “If we both stand outside our doors, I’m sure we could see each other.” As they are speaking today and oftentimes rounding off each others thoughts, it becomes clear that these two women share more than a love for food, photography, and writing.
When Giulia and Tessa speak about their recipes they speak about memories, little moments in which an idea finds them and their inspiration is sparked. There’s little logic to either of their creative processes. Instead, they rely on their intuition: “When studying a moment, you have to trust your intuition and ask yourself, What resonates with me?” Tessa explains. Asked how she chooses her recipes, Giulia agrees: “If there’s a memory, a recipe stays.”
It is quite fascinating how little both Giulia and Tessa actually talk about food though food is what it all comes down to in the end. Meanwhile, they take us on different journeys: back into her nonna’s kitchen when Giulia was a little girl; down a busy street where “something walked past” that provoked Tessa to recreate that same sensation in her kitchen…
As they are filtering observations and memories and translating them into recipes, both Giulia and Tessa acknowledge the flow of everything: of life, of the circumstances under which a recipe finds them, and of their own part in the translation process. “A recipe is a gift from the people,” Giulia offers and shares another tale of the time she ran through the fields to talk to a handful of nonnas, carefully collecting the secrets that have been passed on between generations.
In the end, their cookery books are more than collections of recipes. They are the evolutionary journey of new explorations, a mirror of their observations, or as Tessa likes to say: “A book is a platform — like a bunch of flowers you give to someone.”
Would you like to know more?
Check out Giulia’s blog, Juls’ Kitchen — Stories and recipes from Tuscany and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Giulia also records a podcast —Cooking with an Italian Accent, where you can also find a podcast of Thursday’s event.
You can follow Tessa on Instagram.
Daria Radler: I’m Daria, a content and travel writer on the go. Originally from Hamburg, Germany, I have made the road my home in April 2016. Currently based in Italy, I do what I like best: From travel, culture and creative writing to designing websites: I create and work with new ideas.