On a drive through Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region, Lidia spotted a couple sitting on a park bench. She asked Mario to turn around and head back toward them. After chatting with them for a bit, Lidia and Mario learned that the couple had been out for a little walk, and had stopped to sit and listen to the birds.
One morning this past summer, Lidia Bastianich looked out into her garden and was struck by the diversity of the vibrant red, yellow, orange, and green tomatoes that were practically begging to be picked. Harvesting a good quantity of them, she brought them into her kitchen and set to work. But rather than using a knife and whipping up some tremendous dish, she hauled out her camera, arranged the tomatoes in various still-life poses, and photographed their splendor. Still not yet ready to devour them, Lidia sliced up a few of the tomato beauties and photographed them in their new form. She added a bit of sea salt to the shot, then a wedge of purple onion, and finally a bottle of Bastianich Rosato–which, as she will tell you, was not meant as a marketing ploy but just happened to look nice with the red fruit.
The very definition of an overachiever, Lidia is a supremely multifaceted woman who manages to straddle the roles of chef, entrepreneur, television star, tour guide, mother, grandmother, cookbook author, and educator, without missing a step. And if that’s not enough, she’s recently added yet another title to her repertoire: photographer.
“Photography is my way of capturing a moment,” Lidia says. “When I’m taken by something, I go for my camera.” This medium has become a way for Lidia to communicate her take on what she encounters in both her travels and her daily life, and it’s almost strictly focused on the subject of food. Her photographs evoke a sense of place and person with a timeless quality–as though these moments are firmly set and can be easily revisited. The cherries are always ripe, the pasta shells always perfectly formed by wrinkled hands, and the Umbrian potter remains in pose, making his rustic pots.
Capturing characters that she encounters along her way, from shepherds to zucchini farmers, Lidia is incredibly fascinated by food people, focusing on their hands. “Their hands speak of food,” she explains. “I see what they do. Hands almost seem to give a profile of a person; they have a lot to say.”