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Valentina Solfrini

• Food + photos from an Italian garden. • ‘NaturallyVegetarian’ author ✒ hortuscuisine@gmail.com | hortuscuisine.com

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[ENG/ITA] what would we create if we were not influenced by trends?
Today, I learned that the word poetry derives from the greek ‘poiesis’, which means ‘to create’. So, how much does our ‘poetry’ depend on what we see other do? How authentic are we? Do we fall into the comparison trap? When it comes to creativity, where is the threshold between trends and culture - the line between tomato pasta and avocado toast; between espresso and unicorn latte? Then there’s me with a flower bouquet (cliché, right?) and a person where I brough them told be that men are hard-wired to experience beauty - that we’re made for those things that make our hearts beat a little faster. 
So I’m discovering things that are not a trend in my creative field. ‘Cause in poetry it’s important to to try and change the metrics; play around with it, find your own and experiment with what you’re not used to. Still, if it makes your heart beat, well - whatever works. ———— Cosa creeremmo se non fossimo influenzati dai trend? Oggi ho imparato che la parola poesia deriva da poiesis, che sarebbe ‘creare’. E allora quanto dipende la nostra ‘poesia’ da quello che vediamo fare agli altri? Nel campo della creatività, come saremmo diversi se non fossimo su instagram e dove finisce la linea tra trend e cultura - quella tra la pasta al pomodoro e l’avocado toast, quella tra il caffè e l’unicorn latte. Poi arrivo io con un mazzo di fiori, visti e rivisti, e una persona nel posto dove li ho portati mi dice che siamo fatti per la bellezza, che siamo fatto per vedere cose che fanno fare al cuore anche solo mezzo battito più veloce. Ho conosciuto con piacere @jugiemme , @balenalab_copywriting e @cardiopoetica . Per vedere come la posies is cambia nei contesti.
Perché in poesia serve anche cambiare la metrica, trovarne una propria, ed è importante farci caso, giocarci e sperimentare. Ma se fa battere il cuore, anche un po’ chissenefrega. . . #portraitphotography #chasingharshlight #naturalliving #thatsdarling #faidellordinariounapoesia #fiorineifiori #esercizidibellezza #dsfloral #botanicalbeauty #allthingsbotanical #foundandforaged #caughtflowerhanded #agameoftones

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Yesterday’s pasta, cooked and plated. This is actually a reprise of an old post of mine - a lemon cheese pasta that I made several times for guests and workshops. I wanted to re-shoot it to see the difference with two years ago, to realize that there has been a path, and that as unstable as the steps might have been, they have been walked. As more people write to me to say that they enjoy my styling stories and ask me for private workshops, I feel like sharing more about my creative process and need to come to terms with the fact that this is not just about food anymore - and I am excited that it isn’t. As I write new projects (thanks for answering my questions in stories!!) I still have a bowl of handmade tagliatelle. Do you find yourself struggling with the fact that your goals change and adjust? ———— La pasta di ieri, cucinata e impiattata (limone e parmigiano, wooo). È un reprise di una vecchia foto fatta due anni fa, ripresa per vedere il percorso, che per quanto instabili possano essere stati i passi, me li sono comunque camminati in avanti. Aumenta il numero di persone che mi scrive per dirmi che ama le Stories in cui faccio styling e per chiedermi corsi privati, e io mi ritrovo a voler condividere di più sul mio processo creativo, e mi rendo conto che riprendere il blog non è più solo una questione di cibo. Mentre lavoro a nuovi progetti, comunque, c’è sempre un piatto di tagliatelle... Vi siete mai ritrovati a dover fare i conti con gli obiettivi che cambiano? . . #pasta #italianfood #foodphotography #foodstyling #thatsdarling #rincorrerelabellezza #thisisitaly #igersitaly #igersitalia #ilmioritmolento #TNChustle #socialgnock #tagliatelle #almostfall #bbcgoodfood #frommygarden #naturalliving #lessenzialevisibilealcuore

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24 - GRATITUDE #30dayphotochallenge #hortusphotochallenge
the set for the chocolate fig tarts I published yesterday and I’m going to have up on the blog super soon! And they have to do with today’s theme. I don’t know wether this sounds right, but today I’m going to say that I am grateful for Instagram. I realized it after @me_and_orla launched a post to put out some of the insta negativity and invited people to highlight its perks instead. So I am grateful for Instagram because yesterday I posted photos that I hated (yes, the tarts) and not only I received lots of wonderful comments, but most importantly I realized that it’s great to realize what I like and what I don’t about my work not considering the fact that people love it - I need to love it first and foremost. I am grateful to Instagram because I received many a life-changing email through it. I am grateful for it because of all the crazy wonderful people I met. And I am grateful because one day before a workshop, when self-doubt was eating me alive, I received a private message that turned my world over. Sometimes you feel like you don’t belong anywhere for a long time and then pieces start falling into place, little by little, one by one. And as much as I am grateful for each and every coffee I sat drinking with people I met on here, I am also grateful to each person who just stopped and looked at my photos even for a split second, because it’s what I do and it’s totally me and I love it beyond words. It’s a great place, never minding the bots and fakes and all the rest of the junk (hey, Rome is full of junk too, I would never for a second think about stopping to go there). I am also grateful for much more that I can’t say in here - I got sentimental enough.
Thanks guys! ✨
Did something amazing/crazy/life-changing enter your life through this platform? . . #thatsdarling #leafkicker #faidellordinariounapoesia #ilmioritmolento #theartofslowliving #rincorrerelabellezza #lessenzialevisibilealcuore #lifeandthyme #fairytalelife #frommygarden #cornersofmyworld #ofsimplethings #igersitaly #igersitalia #countryliving #esercizidilentezza #almostfall #tablesetting

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20 - SEASONAL #30dayphotochallenge #hortusphotochallenge I know seasons are but a linear cycle, and yet our rejoicing or grieving at their arrival is often like those situations in which you’re really enjoying yourself or bored waiting in line, and you feel like a dot on a line that moves either fast forward or in slo-mo. But each change of ingredient, hue or foliage is not only beautiful to cherish each second in its fleetingness, but it is most of all necessary.
So let seasons be akin to your feelings when you’re - say, with the one you love, when time becomes a tangle and there’s no earlier or later and you’re just a dot in a grand space, and you can only be here and now.
So I’m enjoying fig tarts now, as tomorrow they’ll be gone (literally, I’d say). ———— So che le stagioni sono un ciclo lineare, e il nostro gioire o dispiacerci al loro arrivo è come quando ci stiamo divertendo o siamo annoiati a far la fila: diventiamo un punto di una linea che si muove troppo veloce o alla moviola. Ma ogni cambio di ingrediente, di colore o di fogliame non è solo bello nella suo essere fuggevole: è soprattutto necessario. 
Allora vorrei vivere le stagioni come se fossero tipo la sensazione di quando si è innamorati, che il tempo diventa un groviglio e non c’è più prima o dopo ma solo un punto in uno spazio vastissimo, e tu puoi essere nient’altro che qui ed ora. 
Quindi mi godo le crostatine ai fichi, che domani saranno spariti (letteralmente, mi viene da dire).
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. #thatsdarling #leafkicker #stilllife #chiaroscuro #faidellordinariounapoesia #onthetable #f52grams #slowlived #naturalliving #thewayweliveinthecountry #ilmioritmolento #stillswithstories #frommygarden #socialgnock #almostfall #igersitalia #igersitaly #nestandflourish #lessenzialevisibilealcuore

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Not long ago I was talking to a friend who dislikes avocados (I know…) and he mentioned the impact of avocados traveling all the way to Italy. He had a point and I haven’t looked at avocados the same since then. So as I wait for Sicilian avocados to add to my smoothies, I made one with some of the grapes I ‘stole’ (*cough*) yesterday in the abandoned vineyard. I’ve been working up a cold so here goes ginger! Here’s the (very rough) recipe:
1 cup grapes (seeds removed) + half a banana + knob of ginger + squeeze of lemon + big handful baby spinach, splash of your favorite milk, dash of cinnamon. I actually ran this through a sieve to make it more juice-like. It makes more of a refreshing snack than a breakfast, for when I feel like something full of minerals and a kick of spicy in my throat. Serve cold! I would have put ice cubes in but I didn’t because I forgot to make ice. Oh well.
—— NOTA per le misure: ‘una cup’ sarebbero 250 ml, quindi diciamo una tazza da colazione? Una volta fatta questa conversione è tutto molto più facile! Più o meno.
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 #naturalliving #greensmoothie #healthyeating #stilllifephotography #thatsdarling #chiaroscuro #rincorrerelabellezza #summer4igers #latesummer #igersitaly #igersitalia #verilymoment #lifeandthyme #slowlived #embracingtheseasons

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10 - NATURE #30dayphotochallenge #hortusphotochallenge I could say a billion things about nature, if @orugajin didn’t already say it perfectly in a phrase in one of his old posts: ‘if I were a plant, I would not ask to have the rose’s scent, should I be born a lily’.
It’s perfect. So I smile at my complaining about summer ending, and I smile at thinking about the nostalgia that grips me as fall approaches. I picked these grapes and I never cooked with grapes, but they stir memories of the US and of grape juice and concord pie, and of apples and cider, and it’s its own kind of perfect joy. Mono no Aware, as the Japanese say: impermanence, nostalgia and things that are perfect in the moment they ‘are’ - with no anticipation or looking back. In Andrea’s phrase, and between these vineyards, there’s my present and some nostalgia: that of school starting as a kid, that of the ocean waves changing along the coasts of Massachusetts as an adult, that of smiling because my feet tread over crisp leaves as they trod on green ones. —— Avrei un miliardo di cose da dire sulla natura, ma la cosa perfetta l’ha scritta @orugajin in un suo vecchio post: ‘se fossi pianta forse non chiederei di avere il profumo della rosa, dovessi nascere giglio’. E’ perfetta. E allora mi fa sorridere il mio lamentarmi dell’estate che passa, mi fa sorridere la nostalgia dell’autunno, oggi che raccolgo l’uva che amo ma con la quale non ho mai cucinato, e mi vengono in mente il succo d’uva e la grape pie negli USA, le mele e il sidro, ed è una gioia nuova ma che torna. Mono no Aware, dicono i giapponesi, l’impermanenza e la nostalgia, la perfezione delle cose nel loro presente senza anticipazioni o sguardi indietro. Nella frase di Andrea, e tra queste vigne, ci sono presente e nostalgia: da piccola della scuola che iniziava, da grande delle coste del Massachusetts quando le onde dell’oceano cambiavano, di adesso che passo su foglie secche come son passata su quelle verdi. . . #rincorrerelabellezza #thisisitaly #lifeandthyme #whatitalyis #naturalliving #faidellordinariounapoesia #slowlived #viverelabellezza #lessenzialevisibilealcuore #thewayweliveinthecountry #thatsdarling #igersitalia #igersitaly

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#30dayphotochallenge #hortusphotochallenge 01 - FAVORITE FOOD I should say my favorite foods are seasonal ones, but I still am visceral towards the conjunction of basil and tomato with any carb. My attachment towards it has to do with childhood and with those innocent days when we had bowls of tomato pasta served at school. There’s the red and there’s the green which are complementary and of two opposite sides of a spectrum and yet made to meet halfway. Makes me think of the times I scoffed at thinking about opposing zodiac signs, about why they aren’t made to go together as they say; and yet one is exalted by the other. It is best to find a party that will make your parts whole rather than useful, and it is best to find a flavor that will elbow through your soul rather than one that can only be its Yes Man. 
Pictured: apples, because they’re red and green AND in season. ——— Dovrei dire che i miei cibi preferiti sono quelli stagionali, ma ho ancora nelle viscere la congiunzione pomodoro e basilico con qualunque carboidrato, quell’attaccamento da bambini, di quando te ne portavano il piatto all’asilo. Perché c’è il verde e c’è il rosso, e uno ha una punta di amaro e una che mi ricorda i profumi maschili e l’altro una di dolcezza e una di asprigno. Perché sono opposti ma complementari, due estremi di uno spettro ma fatti per incontrarsi nel mezzo, e mi fanno pensare ai segni zodiacali in opposizione, Il mio scherno nel pensarli inavvicinabili, perché dovrebbero non andare d’accordo ma i loro elementi si esaltano a vicenda. Che è meglio completarsi che essersi utili; che è meglio avere un sapore che tiri fuori e prenda a gomitate l’anima che uno che le dia ragione. Pictured: le mele, perché erano rosse e verdi e di stagione. . . #rincorrerelabellezza #thisisitaly #lifeandthyme #whatitalyis #faidellordinariounapoesia #viverelabellezza #lessenzialevisibilealcuore #thewayweliveinthecountry #thatsdarling #slowlived #embracingtheseasons

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September 1st is kind of the end of Summer, at least here in the Riviera. I can’t quite let go, so I found a fun thing to do this month. It’s called 30 day gratitude photo challenge, it was launched by @positivelypresent and I found it via Pinterest. Each day, you’re supposed to share something that represents several keywords, like smile, favorite food, light, books, and so on. I love the idea, not only to get me photographing, but most of all to get me writing. It might not be every day (I know it won’t be), and maybe I won’t even be able to cover all topics, but I want to get it started. We’ll see after.
Pictured: typical late summer spread with figs from our trees, walnuts from our trees (the few we managed to salvage - bad year for nuts), sourdough bread, and pizzutella grapes, which I LOVE and might be the one thing that helps me realize watermelon season is (almost) over. #30dayphotochallenge #hortusphotochallenge . . #whatitalyis #rincorrerelabellezza #thisisitaly #onthetable #summer4igers #lifeandthyme #naturalliving #frommygarden #thewayweliveinthecountry #thatsdarling #slowlived #embracingtheseasons #esercizidilentezza #faidellordinariounapoesia #socialgnock

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Not far from where I live, there’s a place that’s kinda magical. Although it’s just a small village on the edge of a cliff right on the sea, there are all sorts of interesting characters living there. There are two treasure hunters who travelled the whole world looking for antiques, there’s a person who’s currently a researcher in California, and one day even a magician passed by, and I got from him a lucky charm that I still hold dear. Each house, wether abandoned or lived in, has the most peculiar story. 
One night, @thefreakytable , @bliu07 and I were walking along the cobbled streets when we spied into a garden and saw this beyond the iron gate. Turned out, one local lady gossiped, that the garden, enclosed within one of the medieval town’s walls, belonged to some entrepreneur from Bologna. 
Right there I thought how much I wanted to set a table like this and have people from - literally - all over the world, in this tiny angle of paradise upon a cliff sandwiched between Marche and Romagna.
Were it daytime, you’d see a stunning hue of blue in the background - that kind of blue that you’re not sure wether it’s sea or sky. But the fairy lights aren’t bad, either… . . #dinner #alfrescodining #igersitalia #igersitaly #verilymoment #lifeandthyme #slowgatherings #naturalliving #thisisitaly #whatitalyis #rincorrerelabellezza #thatsdarling #livefolk #summer4igers #thewayweliveinthecountry #liveauthentic #livefolk

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Experimenting for a clients work - me and the designer who created the concept are re-designing wine labels for a winery in Romagna. In my head, I always imagine wine flavor hues like the touch of a lover reaching out for your skin with their fingertips - I find that complex flavors, just like perfume, reach the senses in a very similar way. You can see the full process of how I made this image - photoshopping included - in the stories! 🌹 (This variety of rose, which is all striped in pink and which I love, is called ‘Bologna’. We’re as close to the terroir as it gets!) . . #naturallyvegetarian #summer4igers #igersitalia #igersitaly #wine #foodandwine #winelove #rincorrerelabellezza #verilymoment #frommygarden #forageandharvest #flowersofinstagram #rose #chiaroscuro #stilllifephotography

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There’s one thing I wanna say out loud: I don’t think my first book #naturallyvegetarian was my best work at all. I’m not talking about the recipes - this rosolio plum cake here is the same as the cherry almond cake you can found in the book and it’s a STELLAR recipe, I’m pretty good with cakes. I’m talking about the photography. I shot it during a year in which I was growing and my direction was taking shape. In retrospect, I could have done much better. But it was what it was - I’m guessing that getting your first real work out right is no simple feat - and I’m so proud I have my own cookbook out! But I want to make a better one still, sono am working on a proposal, which will have a lot more to do with shots out in the open, small Italian towns and traditions, al fresco meals, recipes scribbled on notes by nonnas, and some very peculiar secret gardens... . . #igersitalia #igersitaly #thewayweliveinthecountry #livethelittlethings #bundtcake #cake #summerforigers #summer4igers #verilymoment #lifeandthyme #chiaroscuro

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