Cooking classes are all the rage here on the boot. You pay your money to pound out some fresh pasta, squish some tomatoes, and to learn to chop garlic against your thumb like an Italian grandmother. You can chose to cook the food of the Abruzzo or food of Le Marche—or, you can sit with a glass of wine and watch someone do it all for you.
What do you want in a cooking class? How do you choose from the many available classes?
Why not Tuscany?
It’s a jungle out there. Let’s start by putting you in a Tuscan cooking class. Tuscany, after all, is Italy’s best known region. Your neighbors will know what you’re talking about when you return from your vacation and exclaim “I took a cooking class in Tuscany!” These words will certainly make them ohhh and ahhh and say the yum word.
The cooking in Tuscany makes up, in my opinion, one of Italy’s simplest cuisines. When you cook simple food, you have to be expert—and have a good supply of top-shelf ingredients. You can’t just plop a bowl of Penne al Pomodoro in front of your local foodie made with that 29 cent dented can of tomatoes you found in the bargain bin because the pomodoro bit is the whole focus of the dish. Shame on you. You’ll learn.
And while you’re picking a cooking class, you might as well look toward the rural countryside where the food comes from, preferably in a place with some food history. It would have a garden, of course.
I have recently visited such a place. It was an old mill. Several, actually, all scrunched up together. At one time they cranked out grains and other things good to eat. The water in the mill stream gurgled seductively. You can get lost in the bamboo forest, or wander in the newly planted fruit orchard.
Even the bamboo forest is part of the continuing food history of the place. At one time people surreptitiously used the bits of land between the river and the mill streams for gardens. They planted bamboo so they could have stakes for the tomatoes and favas. When they abandoned their little plots the bamboo went wild. Now you have a romantic place to get lost in.
The Watermill at Posara
Posara is a hamlet in my neck of the woods, the Lunigiana. The Watermill sits on the edge of town, waiting for you to come and practice your water-coloring, your yoga, your knitting. Now you can come in Summer and cook with some of the locals, including one of those legendary Italian grandmothers, as well as an organic farmer and the landscape gardener’s wife. There will be no intimidating man in a toque waving a chefs knife at you while criticizing your parsley chopping.
One of the advantages of this program is that you’ll eat out and have the abundance of small plates set before you in local watering holes when you order you spritz—and you won’t have to divvy up the bill. The whole cooking vacation is all-inclusive. The minute you get off the plane you get whisked off to the Lunigiana and you don’t have to pay another penny until you get back on the plane.
I like that.
Here’s the program.
In August the tomatoes will be ripe for you.
If you wish more information about the class, please use the Enquiry Form. Please mention Wandering Italy in the message box if you would be so kind.