Venice odyssey on the menu
TV chef Rick Stein takes us on a journey to discover the gastronomic legacy of the Byzantine Empire Rick Stein is off on another of his self-styled culinary journeys during this seven-part series, a kind of mooching odyssey through Italy, Croatia, Albania, Greece and Turkey.
Here, he explores the gastronomic legacy of the Byzantine Empire, uncovering idiosyncratic details of its little-known history and cuisine.
“Now, I’m no historian,” he tells us at the start as he begins to wander around Venice.
“I’m a cook but I love the golden culture of the Byzantine Empire and I’ll be dropping bits of history in here and there but basically it’s all about the food.”
Over the decades now, with his producer and director David Pritchard, Stein has created a new format for the TV cooking show — following on the heels of Keith Floyd, another travelling chef discovered by Pritchard — merging it with the travel show, touching on matters environmental, literary, historical, social, aesthetic and political.
Few TV presenters speak to us with such easy intimacy, sharing personal stories, chatting easily and knowledgeably with chefs and restaurateurs, and creating a rather unique warm and friendly aura; though he does enjoyably indulge in the odd diatribe or two, especially when it comes to the sustainability of fishing in Britain.
He reminisces about his previous visits to Venice, letting the past return to him the way he so characteristically does, with a travel writer’s gift for story, and can’t resist sitting down to read a bit of Byron’s Ode on Venice, lamenting the city’s marble walls will one day sink beneath the sea. Then it’s on to the Antiche Carampane in San Polo — the historic courtesans’ area — to try his first Venetian recipes, a sign outside stating emphatically: “No Menu Turistico.” 8.30pm, ABC. Tuesday,