Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Memories of your cooking class will linger long after your vacation

Yan stirs the mushrooms for bruschetta.
One doesn’t have to be an exceptional cook to appreciate the care that goes into making a great meal. Taking a cooking class in Italy with friends is a pleasant experience regardless of one’s level of expertise, and it provides insight into why Italian food is so good.

Lucy and I, along with three friends and two strangers who quickly became friends, recently learned to make two types of bruschetta, ragù bolognese, balsamic chicken and various types of pasta. We also learned how to taste olive oil to distinguish and appreciate the various levels of quality.
Elena holds two mushrooms while explaining the importance of using fresh local ingredients.

Elena and Luigi explain the names of various shapes that the
pasta can be formed into.
We met in one of the kitchens of Fattoria Il Poggio, a popular restaurant and farm in Montecarlo. Our cooking instructor, Elena Benvenuti of Discover Lucca with Elena, along with expert cook Luigi, emphasized that Italian meals are simple but use the freshest local ingredients and the highest quality of olive oil and wine.
With a little instruction and practice, one can learn to distinguish between cheap olive oil and that of high quality.

Time passed swiftly as we learned techniques to quickly and safely cut, blend and fry the ingredients. I won’t go into greater detail, because this is the second time I’ve taken the class, and I described it thoroughly in an earlier entry: Cooking class and Italian pranzo both enjoyable and special experiences.

Good ingredients and proper techniques result in bruschetta
with a flavor that delights the taste buds.
I highly recommend taking a cooking class as part of one’s full experience in visiting Italy. It involves all the senses (you get to eat what you make afterwards). You interact with friends and native Italians. A few years after you return from your trip, your photo albums (or computers) will be full of images of places you hardly remember. But your experience of making and eating an authentic Italian meal will be fresh for many years to come.

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