Photos condition and limit creativity. In the era of photocopies seen on Instagram, there are those who prefer books without the figures: Daniel Canzian
"The cookbooks with the photos have ruined us," says Daniel Canzian seraph, leafing through an old volume of Talisman of Happiness: 1000 pages of text, published for the first time in 1927. Cookbooks from Ada Boni, Artusi, Cucchiaio d’Argento and La Cucina Italiana had no photographs. There were no illustrations, no way to view the finished product, we dedicated ourselves only to technique and taste. Less than a century has passed and today we eat and cook with our eyes.
We are in the era of the image, we shake feeds and we see a thousand billion images taken every year before our eyes: practically every two minutes more pictures are taken of how many humanity produced in the first decades of the last century. The way of learning, remembering, communicating and even cooking has changed. It is inevitable, visual information has no language boundaries and with social networks and the Internet in a moment they are wherever there is a screen, accessible to everyone.
Fashions are spreading at an increasingly frenetic pace and real trends are affirmed online, and immediately afterwards in restaurant menus. Copying has become so easy that it is difficult to escape. Arched, side windows, colors, geometric shapes, ideas: as soon as you post on Instagram they end up being copied, distorted, become inspiration, or plagiarism, in the kitchens of others. We look at the form and try to invent a substance that "looks" like a good idea, creating apparently photocopies of dishes with content that may be completely different, maybe not even that good. But beautiful.
"I don't want to be influenced, but if I had the photographs it would be inevitable. If I read a recipe for the first time I would be conditioned by the visual result, I would put a brake on creativity , explains Canzian leafing through recipes belonging to the past, to regional cuisines or great essays such as Escoffier. "Ideas come this way, imagining a taste and inventing a form for it."
The encyclopedias had French illustrations, from the age of enlightenment. In the delicatessen sections food and utensils, cuts of a cow and the techniques of binding cured meats, the shape of the pots and that of the forks were enumerated, described. In the recipe books of Antonin Carême detailed chine explained how to serve salads and aspics, game dishes and desserts, elaborate and complex as sculptures. In The Culinaire Guides by George Auguste Escoffier rationalization is maniacal and the cuisine treated as a science, chemistry and physics of food. Even today, to make a béchamel or a sauce, reference is made to him.
In Italy no one has ever felt the need to explain what the face of a plate of orecchiette or the perfect size of a noodle had on us: in our kitchen the kitchen has never been codified technique, it is a family thing, it is inspiration, it is product and taste. And it changes every 50 kilometers, staying wide. No one would like to cook the same as another, everyone thinks they have the best recipe. Or at least it was like that, before Instagram and the time when books looked only at the figures.