In August 2012 I had the privilege of staying at the Danish cultural institution San Cataldo in the Italian province of Salerno just outside Scala, a very charming village clinging itself to the mountainside overlooking Ravello and the beautiful Amalfi coastline. The former catholic Benedectine monastery, San Cataldo, is today run by a Danish foundation established in 1936 with the purpose of offering Danish scientists and artists of any discipline room for studying and working away from home for shorter (weeks) or longer (months) periods of time. Without having to be bothered with practical chores of any kind. Enjoying full board, silence and room for work and concentration.

The view from my room was breathtaking, and I could have stayed there all day – perched on the window sill – if the view from my assigned work cell and the dining room had not been equally impressive.  And if the morning walks down the more than 800 steps towards the beach in Atrani and the early morning dip there followed by freshly brewed coffee at the beach bar had not been so appealing.


And speaking of the beverages, bars and dining rooms: Everyone who knows me will tell you that I enjoy every meal of the day, and at San Cataldo … even more so. The meals were simply heavenly. One major reason being the fact that the kitchen is run to perfection by two beautiful and talented Italian women, who also happen to be mother and daughter. Another reason is just the way the Italians cook, I think. And thirdly, the ground on which San Cataldo proudly rests, offers a huge variety and abundance of vegetables to add to the lovely meals these two hard-working women serve to the residents of San Cataldo every single day.

One of the crops of course being tomatoes – in Italian: Pomodori

One afternoon, the two women started preparations for production of home-made tomato paste to be used for future meals. I joined them outside the kitchen door, again with a wonderful view, to watch the process with my camera. This task – boiling, seasoning, crushing and filtering the tomatoes – not only needed an open fire, baskets and machinery but also some extra hands, and therefore the great-grandmother was called in to assist. Also – at the back there in the shade – the youngest member of the family – the fourth generation, was (almost) silently watching her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother working hard out there in the sun. The family prefer not to put the baby on the internet, so you need to believe me when I tell you, she was in there in her stroller, smiling, babbling and watching the work going on. And flirting wildly with my camera.

I truly enjoyed watching this process. Not much talking going on, just silent cooperation. Each woman clearly understanding the other’s task, while enjoying each other’s company and contributing to this very important production: Passata di pomodori

Grazie per avermi permesso a, signore!


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