Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
'So somebody's been barging and eating here
since the middle eighteen hundreds.' The slow
pace of Stein's diesel-powered barge offers a
further visual metaphor for the slow cooking of
the region. As a dish of duck breasts is prepared
by Stein and his hostess, the television camera
frames, in the close-ups so suited to domestic
viewing, 13 bunches of garlic, raw duck breasts
crusted with herbs and pepper, a dice of crisp
fried duck fat piled in a glazed clay bowl, crys-
tals of salt sprinkled over the surface, the black-
ened patina of an hachoire , that crescent shaped
blade with a handle at each end for chopping
onions and herbs. Underpinning the historical
continuities of the meal there is a close-up of a
well-aged and knife-scored wooden table top
on which Stein lays a piece of toast before
spreading it with pâté. He is shown standing in
front of the house, whose warm stone, trailing
vine and wooden shutters are further visual sig-
nifi ers contributing to the continuity of a culi-
nary tradition and to the totality of the goût de
terroir , which Stein is communicating to his
viewers. The sensuousness of the sequence is
heightened by a satisfying crunch on the sound-
track as Stein takes an indulgent bite of a piece
of toast laden with pâté. Central to Stein's voy-
aging and celebration of food are meals shared
with his hosts, invitations to which his viewers
can only, enviously, aspire.
his celebrity lifestyle and television appearances.
He appears to be unaware of the irony that a
television crew will accompany him on this
journey of self re-energizing. Like Stein, he
equates authenticity with the rural, but this
Italian journey is not about the well-trodden
beat of Chiantishire, but the less touristically
developed south. In creating a second layer of
authenticity to his series by travelling rather
more literally than Stein 'off the beaten track',
he positions himself in the camp of the anti-
tourist. For Buzard (1993), such competitiveness
fi rst emerged in the years after the Napoleonic
Wars as Europe was opened up to more and
more tourists.
[T]he authentic 'culture' of places - the genius
loci - was represented as lurking in secret
precincts 'off the beaten track' where it could be
discovered only by the sensitive 'traveller', not
the vulgar tourist.
(Buzard, 1993, p. 6)
This is underpinned by Oliver's choice of trans-
port, a battered old camper van, whose ten-
dency to break down at opportune moments for
the camera brings the appropriate amount of
travail to his travels as well as occasioning
tirades whose four letter words, bleeped out for
pre-watershed viewing, suggest that there is not
always an obvious correlation between sensitiv-
ity and being a traveller.
At the beginning of the fi rst episode, 14 he
makes clear his culinary purpose. 'Even though
I've cooked Italian food for 12 years, I've never
lived there and I don't even speak the language.
I want to fi nd out why Italian families are so pas-
sionate about food. I also want to fi nd out why
the average Italian family eats so well when mil-
lions of British families eat such scrote.' He
addresses the camera from the wheel of his van,
'I'm going to be learning from the people that
can, the working-class, builders, and . . . you
know . . . the cucina povera , the poor man's
cooking. It's almost like day one of college all
over again. I'm just so excited, I can't possibly
tell you. I guess it's the unexpected; that's what
travelling's supposed to be all about. You know,
Food to Re-energize a Celebrity:
Jamie's Great Italian Escape
Stein acknowledged his debt to Elizabeth David
by reading to camera a passage from French
Provincial Cooking , which celebrated the pro-
duce of French markets and suggested their
potential superiority as a tourist sight over the
local château . She is also one of the dedicatees
of the more iconoclastic Jamie Oliver's book of
his series, Jamie's Great Italian Escape (Oliver,
2005). Oliver, younger, streetwise, is more
driven than the laid-back Stein, his series being
a self-proclaimed attempt to take time off from
13 See Ellis (1990) on the correlation between domestic viewing of television and choice of shot size, and Wheatley
(2004) on the increasing audio-visual pleasures to be had as screen size and picture quality improve.
14 Jamie's Great Italian Escape , Episode 1 (October 2005).
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