Waking up to the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and sauce simmering on the stove, the sounds of my father speaking in Italian and my mother and sisters laughing in the living room always left me with a sense of comfort. Growing up in an Italian family, I have been surrounded by the food, language and the culture my entire life. For as long as I can remember we had spreads of meats, cheeses, and olives out on the table for casual snacking. I sat with my father and went over recipes and talked about his hometown of Formia, Italy. I dreamt about the day that I would visit Italy and experience the culture firsthand. That dream became a reality last year and ever since my time in Italy I have come to realize just how important cooking is to me and how deeply I hold my family recipes in my heart.
I have created this collection of photographs that highlight my family recipes as my own personal way to pay homage to my family, my heritage and the people who I will have the opportunity to share these dishes with in the future. My photographs and documentation are my personal contribution to my family’s legacy.
This body of work is from my 2019 graduating thesis.
As time goes on and as we get older, the memories of our youth get hazier and hazier until it is hard to tell if they are in fact memories, or maybe they are just dreams. The more time passes and the fuzzier my memories of youth become, the more I start to notice the warmth of the sun which takes me back to summers in New York, the smell of breakfast cooking on Sunday morning, the feeling of waves crashing against my feet, spinning in fields of grass until I would fall to the floor dizzy, sitting with my best friends after school dreaming of our futures, and spending hours lying in bed watching movies with my sisters. All of these things contribute to pieces of my everyday life that transport me back to my youth, things that I never thought to photograph – the sun shining through the trees, the crinkles in my blanket, all of these things are a temporary fix for what I long for. I have always plastered my walls with 4x6 prints of my favorite memories creating what I now realize to be an ever-growing scrapbook of the times when I was the happiest – and now, as an adult, I am reminded of these memories of my youth anytime I notice the warmth of the sun or if I catch myself getting lost looking out the window of a moving car. With this project, I have captured the essence of my youth – the physical feeling I associate with these memories that I hold so close to my heart.
“We are the generation of nostalgia. We grew up in the age of transition. From hand-written letters to electronic mails. From film to digital. We were fascinated by new things, neglecting the way we spend our afternoons. Cupcakes and tea. Play-Doh and Polly Pockets. Young and naive. Technology completely changed the way we waited and we grew up too fast. The simple things in life seem more meaningful now. We grew up in the age of transition and have become the generation of nostalgia.”
Over the past two years the realization that I did not have a physical place that I considered to be a home has become increasingly present to me. With moving from Daytona Beach back to my parents’ house, to Italy and then to Port Orange I realized that I did, at some point, value all those places as a home. After the loss of my sister, Gabrielle, I was living at my parents’ house and had this overwhelming feeling of emptiness, I had a hard time being there and I have realized it was because Gab was gone and she was what made that house a home for such a long time and I am now learning to allow it to become the home I know it is again. Once I returned from Italy I moved to Port Orange for my senior year of college – a time that I am supposed to cherish and enjoy, but, for the first few months of being there I absolutely despised the town and being in my apartment. As I grew closer to my friends and as our relationships grew I found that we always ended up at my apartment, whether as a group of 5 or individually – and I was content. Apartment 24104 quickly started feeling like home and I will forever have my friends to thank for that. I have, through this series, learned that I consider a home to be wherever I am with the people who I am closest to at that time in my life, not an address.
We all know items such as soda and junk foods have added unnatural sugars and are not necessarily something that we should be putting into our bodies. We still purchase and consume these items,choosing to ignore the negative health effects they can cause. When sugar is juxtaposed with a savory food we are instantly turned away from the combination and realize how unnatural added sugars are. There is a major health epidemic in our country concerning added sugars and how consumers are constantly being sold these items. Much like the misleading information presented by big name pharmaceutical companies, big name food companies will likely go to any length to sell their sugary, unhealthy items. There is a parallel between the unfortunate dependency people grow towards drugs that can be compared to the dependency some people gain towards sugary processed foods.