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Putting Food on the Table, Italian Style

March 28, 2015
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

have always considered myself a foodie, constantly on the prowl for a good meal, something novel, original, flavorful. A lot of times this means heading to one of the countless irresistible local restaurants just around the corner from my apartment. One of the unfortunate parts of being a college student, however, is that you are constantly on a budget; so eating out every night is not in the cards.

Our wise coordinators at CEA are always ahead of the game, though! They made available to us students an Italian cooking class at a local venue, In Tavola, which translates to “on the table.”  The cooking class would have been a lovely social and educational experience for anyone, but I think that it was especially helpful to me and my classmates as we are all watching our pocketbooks get thin, much more quickly than expected, largely due to our love of the local cuisine.

  We observed In Tavola’s professional chefs create many traditional Italian dishes before preparing them ourselves. The chefs were fun and interactive, giving each small group directions and pointers as we were cooking, making the experience very personalized; it almost felt like I was in my own kitchen!

We started off by preparing a delicious-but-simple, antipasto, or appetizer, of grilled eggplant, basil, tomato, and mozzarella. Each was then was drizzled with olive oil and baked. Delizioso!

Undoubtedly the most rewarding and entertaining part of our cooking experience was the making of both the fettuccine and the gnocchi. Each group collaborated to make these delicious Italian specialties from scratch, the gnocchi with a base of riced potatoes, and the fettuccine from just flour, egg yolk, and a dash of salt. Our homemade pastas happened to go fabulously with our fresh, savory red sauces: the gnocchi with the arrabiata (spicy) sauce, and the fettuccine with the Bolognese.

 Gnocchi  Arrabbiata sauce  Fresh fettuccine


Last, but most certainly not least, we made personal sized tiramisu, possibly one of the most delectable things I have ever eaten. I never knew cheese, eggs, sugar, coffee, biscuits, and cocoa powder could make me love my life so much.

Italy is heaven on earth for a foodie. The local markets, with their fresh daily, regional, and always-delicious produce, meats, cheeses, and pastas, can make every meal a 5-star one… Especially after a few helpful hints from those who know it best – the locals!  We are now ready to get cookin' and put some food on our own kitchen tables, Italian style.

Learning how to cook these couple of traditional Italian dishes was very helpful to my bank of cooking skills. The basic skills my classmates and I learned, such as adding white wine into the pan with garlic and olive oil so the garlic does not burn, can be applicable to all of our adventures in the kitchen, and will help us to take better advantage of all of the wonderful ingredients that are readily available to us – geographically and economically – right here in our back yard: Florence.

Emma Lamke is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Florence, Italy.  She is currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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