Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cooking Class in Rome

One thing I really wanted to try was a cooking class while in Rome.  Sure as a North American we say we eat Italian but really "what is Italian".  Is it that spaghetti sauce my Mom always made, that I now make and freeze for quick meals after a long day at work.  Well the answer is a definite no it is not.

A long time ago I made a point of searching for a highly recommended cooking class while here and I found Cooking Classes In Rome - find the link here.

First thing is getting there.  We are staying near the Colosseum and there is a tram right outside our door that will take us over to Trastevere.  

We are at the stop and we are waiting, now one great thing here is that their bus stops list the buses and then right below the numbers they list the stops that they go.  So we are able to see that #3 is the route we want.  But no tram is coming.  The #3 bus arrives but it is a bus, and I know we want a tram but we know it goes where we want so we get on.  We try to validate our tickets we purchased the night prior from a Tobacco shop (they sell transit tickets for 1.50 E each).  But the validator on the bus is not working, neither are working.  So we get a free ride (hmm similar to at home).  

Again one of the very nice locals confirms we are on the right bus and says the tram doesn't operate on Saturday only the bus does.  Oh, okay.  It is a short ride, maybe 15 minutes and we are in Trastevere.

With my handy Map App - City Maps 2 Go - on my phone we find the cooking class - and boy things here are hard to find here in Rome so be prepared and give yourself some time. There are a few people standing outside already and we all start to chat and get to know each other.

Andrea the Chef and owner opens up the door and we are all lead into a very welcoming room with a long table in the middle.  There are 12 of us and we each take a seat and continue getting to know each other as Andrea puts out some pastries, toast and jams - all homemade.  And of course an espresso for each of us.  Very nice touch.

Andrea then introduces himself and asks us all where we are from.  What amazes me is he makes a point of remembering our names and where we are from as he refers to it throughout the entire cooking class.  This just makes us all feel even more at home here.

We are all led into a small kitchen at the back, which even though it is small can accommodate us all, but we are often cramped in and tripping over each other.  But in a way that may be a good thing.  It forces us to interact with each other, to help each other, to engage and chat with each other.  Soon we are all laughing like we have know each other for a long time.  

We were happy to meet Sharon and Ron who are from Oshawa Ontario and will be sailing with us on the Island. There was also a nice couple from South Carolina, a woman - Amanda from California who is living in Rome right now for work. Three young Australians who are touring around for a few weeks.  A man from England who is also working here and another woman from Saskatoon Saskatchewan - Lisa who is travelling with her daughter.

Our menu is as follows:  

  • stuffed zucchini flowers with a southern style pesto
  • spaghetti carbonara
  • meatballs with fresh tomato sauce
  • lemon custard with kiwi

Andrea explains what Italian food is, how Italians eat in season.  How eating locally has always been an important thing here and not a trend.

He shows us what he purchased today in the market.  How he goes to the market to see what they have and then makes up his menu.  Not how many of us plan our meal and then go to the grocery store and pick up what we need.

The class is totally hands on.  Each of us is given a task and we get right into it. 

Once all the ingredients are prepared Andrea gets us all cooking and we all work well together preparing each thing and sharing in the task.  We even make our pasta from scratch and we even cut it with the machine and we even use the old fashion guitar type cutter.

I loved how Andrea got us involved but have to say there were times I felt like I was in school and afraid to answer the wrong thing.  But he made it fun, and I am learning the "Italian sense of humour".  

Once everything is ready and after almost three hours cooking we all sit down again and Andrea comes out and serves us.  He even acts as our server!  

Bernie and I chose to add the wine pairing for an extra 20E and we are really glad we did.  

Each dish is brought out and we are amazed how great everything is and we actually cooked it.  

For me the tomato sauce was eye opening for me. Certainly not how I make a tomato sauce but I can tell you I am going to start making my sauce like this now!  

Bernie really loved the pasta carbonara and of course the custard.

I do have to say the fresh pasta is so good but I don't know if I could make it by scratch that often, heck if ever, it was a lot of work.  Well maybe I will try it one day.

Andrea will send us all the recipes for us to make when we get home.  

It was a long day but we both agree it was something we think everyone should do.  Visiting Rome is not just about seeing the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain.  It is about learning about the people, their every day life.  What connects them and their families?  Food is something we all have in common and to immerse ourselves in their culture will go down as one of the highlights of this trip.

Thank you Andrea and all the participants for a great day.

Bernie and I catch the bus back with ease. I am sitting beside a mother with her little girl of around 5 who is crying.  I see they speak English so I ask her what is wrong. Of course like kids all over the world she doesn't want to respond, but Mom says she wanted me to buy her something that I said no to.  Ahhh yes that is sad I say, but sometimes we don't always get what we want.  I show her Jasper and introduce him to her and explain he comes from Canada. She glances up and a small smile appears as she wipes away a few tears.  We chat for a minute or two and then she gets off the bus but not before she turns around and waves back at me.  

I love this city.

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