Octopus, Rialto Market, Venice, Charlie Grosso

Wok the Dog, a photo documentary of food markets around the world. 23 countries, 85 cities completed and counting. How could I possibly contemplate a project about food markets without including Italy and France?

With a looming deadline of completing the series by the end of 2013 (17 more countries) and a shortened time frame in Europe due to the prolong process of buying a car in Romania, I am forced to travel at a neck-breaking pace for the next week. 2 nights in Venice, 2 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Paris before I head over to Prague for The Mongol Rally kick off.

Vegetable Vendor, Rialto Market, Venice, by Charlie Grosso

Venice….The fish market in Rialto is supposed to be legendary…

The only way to really describe the market in Rialto is pretty. The fish market, the produce market…all of it, it is just pretty (and I say this the most non-sarcastic way).

Rialto Fish Market, Venice, Italy, by Charlie Grosso

Everything is extraordinarily fresh, the fish, the clams, tomatoes, peaches, cherries…You almost think the mackerel swam up the Grand Canel, jumped up into the  fish monger’s table at 7am in the morning and begged to be made into a fine dinner.

Smelts, Rialto Market, Venice, by Charlie Grosso

Rialto Marcado moves at the pace of the canals. It has a tempo of its own, much like the Italians. It is not in a hurry. It will do its own thing on its own time. Tsukiji reflected the pace of Tokyo. Tsukiji is about efficiency, the fish and the fish mongers moves from one step to another without missing a beat. Here in Venice, the rhythm is different. Everything moves at the same pace as the gondolier. The shoppers, purveyors, fish, squid, even the peaches are all under an unspoken mandate to be beautiful, perfect and incredibly delicious.

Knives and Cutting Board, Rialto Market, Venice, by Charlie Grosso

Venice gets covered in the tiniest layer of dirt, but the city sweeps up itself the broken bottles and cigarette butts from the nigh before you are ready for your first shot of espresso. The fishmongers clean, gut and de-scale right there, yet somehow, they are never covered in fish scales, guts or blood….the market barely smells and death is never acutely felt.

 

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