It’s a small world~

It’s all a ride~

My father was in the Navy when I was very young and for a couple of years he was stationed in San Diego, CA. While my father was away in the Pacific for months at a time, my mother was at home with my sister and me. I am sure that was a daunting task to have been 23 and home alone raising two children under three. 

When my aunt would come out to visit us, keeping my mother company, we would go to Disneyland. I can vividly recall riding the teacups, or sitting in Dumbo as he rose up and down as we twirled in a circle, or pulling down the brim of my Donald Duck hat and making it squeak as we plummeted down the rushing water of the Pirates of the Caribbean. But the ride that seemed to ground us back in reality and return us to our sugarcoated, picture perfect lives was “It’s a Small World.”

Why that ride and this blog entry, which is about Venice, are connected in my head at the moment is beyond me. I think it might be the vibrantly bright colors that I associate with those singing peoples of the world and the colors bursting from the shop windows in Venice. It could also be that, like the ride where everything seems so small and compressed together, the streets of Venice feel more like sidewalks bordered in shops than actual thoroughfares where traffic blurs the window displays. In Venice, if you are not in a boat, then you are on foot walking everywhere. There are no bicycles, motorcycles, or mopeds. You either float along, like the Disney ride, past the brightly colored buildings and people, or you are walking through tight and narrow streets crowded full of people who “float” you by the displays of masks, trinkets, and restaurants.

Displaying how fresh and beautiful your food is happens to be what the Venetians do. Window after window, restaurant after restaurant, bar countertop after bar countertop had food displayed on it. Sometimes raw, sometimes cooked, it is always there for your viewing.

It is midnight, as I sit here finally eating my first meal since lunch earlier today—after a very long day at the theatre where I listened to beautiful singing, in a foreign tongue, by 80 people dressed in a wide array of clothes. Now if I was just sitting in a boat and wearing my Donald Duck hat…

I am looking down at my blandly cooked chicken over romaine lettuce that I quickly threw together and thinking of all the beautiful food I saw and ate in Venice. How I would kill for some calamari, prawns, sea bass, or cooked octopus right about now. I need some vibrant color–that is what I really need.

It might be a small world, but tonight my dinner plate and the plates I experienced in Venice are worlds apart.

Ciao e a presto~


**Enjoy the photos of some of the food sights of Venice.


About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

  1. atippettatippett01-28-2010

    It’s 9:15 & I just had a bowl of cheerios for breakfast. What I would give to have that smorgesbord from your photos right now! I was especially tantalized by what looks like a shrimp & scallop combo marinating in something while resting inside the big shells. It all looks fabulous. I’ll buy you a donald duck hat if you’d cook that for me every day!

  2. Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-28-2010

    Deal…better yet, let’s go to Venice!

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.