September 11, 2009
In just a few short days, I will be immersing myself in my Italian heritage with a trip to Amalfi and Capri. Don’t misunderstand. I won’t be sitting under a lemon tree, sipping ice cold limoncello for which the region is famous. Instead, I will be practicing my Italian as I talk to staff at area culinary schools where I will conduct cooking classes for sixteen eager Americans.
I will go through my check list of ingredients and equipment to make sure I have everything I need. Mozzarella di bufala? Sí. Pomodoroni? Sí. Olio di Oliva? Sí. And so it will go.
I will drift in and out of Italian as I talk to the staff and the students. Then I will assign the recipes to the students and work with each of them individually to perfect their technicque and answer their questions.
The days will be long, and the food we prepare will be more than memorable. We will make regional Campanian classics such as Parmigiana de Melanzane (eggplant casserole) and gnocchi alla Sorrentina (potato gnocchi in the style of Sorrento). The students will grow in their understanding of what local cooking is all about.
Wine is an important component of any Italian meal, so we will visit local wineries, sample their wines, and pair them with our recipes. We’ll take in the history of the area, too, with visits to Naples to tour this chaotic, but vibrant city; Pompeii to learn more about that doomed day in 79 A.D. when Vesuvius decided to blow its top; and the serene and majestic town of Ravello, too beautiful to be true.
The whole experience will forever change my students and they will be the richer for it.