Guest post from my sister, Jenny, about her cooking class in Italy that she took while studying abroad in Florence. I was fascinated by all the things she cooked and learned there, so I’m excited for her to share that here!
Hello! My name is Jenny and I’m really excited to be sharing a little bit about my experience taking a cooking class in Italy! When I went to Florence, I knew I was going to study science and travel writing, but there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to take some type of culinary class. The class I picked was Italian Regional Foods in the Cultural Perspective at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute. I chose this one because we got to learn about the cuisine of each region of Italy as well as learn about the history and culture of that region. It was awesome!
One of the coolest aspects of my cooking class was getting to cook in the Il Mercato Centrale, or the Central Market. We were able to use state-of-the-art equipment in one of the most bustling places in Florence, and visitors could watch us prepare dishes through the glass windows while we paid attention to our chef and his sous-chef describing what to do next.
Like I mentioned, the class was all about regional cuisine. Each week, we tackled a new region by cooking a famous and popular dish from that region and discussed the historical significance of it. We started in the North with Liguria and moved through Italy, ending with Sardegna.
Some other dishes we made were tiramisu from Veneto, cannolis from Sicily, and of course, pizza from Campania e Puglia….
Below, left: My favorite pasta dish we made was from Sardegna called Malloreddus sardi al sugo di maiale e frutta secca, aka pasta made with pork, saffron-infused dough, and dried fruit. The island Sardegna has been a crossroads for many cultural influences over the ages due to its central location in the Mediterranean, and you can see that legacy in their cuisine. So in malloreddus, for example, the pork would come from Spain to the west while the saffron came from regions further east.
We made the malloreddus from scratch, and used a small ridged board to make the little pasta pieces. It was super fun and super delicious!
Above, right: At the end of the semester for our final, we had to pick a dish to make and present it to our chefs, describing to them the techniques we used and the history of the region it came from. My group chose Tortino alla gianduia con crema di pere, a mini chocolate cake with pear sauce. It was adorable and delicious and our chefs said we baked it perfectly! (Success!)
It was so enjoyable to be able to take a cooking class in Italy and really learn about the culture through the cuisine. I was able to take the recipes home with me as well, so I would always be able to recreate those dishes again. Thanks for reading through, and thanks to Kate for letting me guest post!