When I saw that Foodies100 were running a competition over on their site with GLORIOUS! soups to win a trip to Mumbai – which includes a food tour – I had to take a look. Not only because I would love a foodie trip but because I have eaten GLORIOUS soups in the past and I am a big fan.
The competition asks you to choose a soup recipe that inspires a travel memory and as soon as I saw the Tuscan Chicken and Orzo I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.
Back in 1994, I found myself alone after the break-up of my marriage. I moved into a small flat and, for the first time in my life, I was able to just be me. I didn’t have to answer to anyone and I could watch anything I liked on the TV. I had also joined a drama society called The Quince Players and my first main role was as Olivia in the Shakespeare play ‘Twelfth Night’.
This ignited my love of Shakespeare. Having never studied it, I didn’t have the tainted view of a boring classroom reading. Instead I found the words beautifully poetic and was surprised to find that I understood his language. Knowing that I could watch whatever I liked, I went out and bought the Kenneth Brannagh version of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. The film has remained one of my favourites ever since, not only for the superb performances from so many memorable actors – Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Richard Briers and Emma Thompson to name but a few – but also because of it’s absolutely breathtaking scenery in the form of Tuscany.
The opening scenes are full of care-free joy as the picnic that Beatrice and her friends are enjoying on Lenato’s land is interrupted by the arrival of Don Pedro. The camera’s pan across the landscape, and the setting of the Villa Vignamaggio in Tuscany, as the strains of the music which the poem is set to play dramatically and it immediately draws you in. For these reasons and many others, the area of Tuscany contributes greatly to the film. Not only does it help with it’s timelessness but it also seems like it is in it’s own little world. The visual impact it creates is stunning and I was hooked.
From then on Tuscany became a symbol of freedom and happiness for me. Having just left the confines of a marriage and enjoying my independence, I could really relate to the film. It is beautifully shot and is one of the most romantic stories I have ever seen portrayed on the screen. Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson do an amazing job and have such chemistry. I remember being so disappointed when their real-life relationship broke down.
I have only ever had the pleasure of passing through the rolling hills of Tuscany and not really had any chance to spend much time there. It was back in the mid-90s, when my freedom also meant that I could have a holiday to wherever I chose and for me it had to be Italy. I travelled there with one of my girlfriends. We stayed in Rimini as I couldn’t afford much but it meant that we were able to take day trips to Venice, Rome and Florence. The coach trip to and from Rome took us through Tuscany. I can remember voicing my complete excitement to my friend Lindsey, comparing everything to the images from Much Ado About Nothing. On the journey back through the Tuscan hillsides, we stopped for an evening meal at a traditional Tuscan Trattoria. It actually felt like we were sitting in someone’s house and the staff were so welcoming. I can still remember the taste of the red wine and wonderfully fresh, rich tomato sauce of the lasagne we ate.
One day I would love to take a family holiday to experience a full on Tuscan Villa for myself. Even reading the description of my chosen soup on the GLORIOUS soup site talks of wandering among Cypress trees and watching the sun setting behind the rolling Tuscan hills. It sounds perfect to me. Until that day, I will continue to get lost in the film that takes me there – and may be next time I will have to watch it with a bowl of Tuscan Chicken and Orzo just to add to the ambience.
This blog post is an entry into the Foodies100/GLORIOUS! soup #GloriousAdventures blogger challenge.