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Study Abroad Blog

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Paper, Pens, & Pasta?

Studying abroad not only allows you to experience new places, languages, and cultures, but new ways of learning as well. Besides my typical marketing classes, and Italian language coarse, I have one class that is something I could never have even dreamed of taking back in the States. That is...The Culture of Food and Wine in Italy.
 My food and wine journal and wine with tortellini lean with saffron sauce

This course examines the history of both food and wine throughout Italian history, ranging from the migration of pasta into Italy to Roman dinner parties to the Renaissance and so forth. Before each class, we have reading assignments to do from Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food, by John Dickie, about what we will be discussing next day. Each week, readings are typically about a certain region of Italy or a specific time period in its history. The first half of the class, we further discuss and take notes on what we have read and get a deeper understanding of the history of said region or time.
 Sampling a white wine in class

The next half, my favorite half (heck anyone-who-can-breathe's favorite half), we get to eat and drink what we’ve learned about. That’s right...we put away our pens and papers and take out our forks and wine glasses! Two dishes are prepared by Chef Claudia, who owns a restaurant here in Rome, while our teacher Gregory Smith, a wine sommelier, pairs them each with a wine. We record both of our dishes and wine pairings into our Food and Wine journals. The recordings include the ingredients, preparation, chef notes, facts and information, ratings (alcohol level, complexity, balance, taste, finish, body, etc), and a spot for us to put our final thoughts and opinions about each dish and wine.
 Brasato with Red Wine with Grissini
 Risotto with Fonduta & Truffle

We've also had the opportunity to go on a couple of field trips in this class. Our first excursion was to a lower end and higher end market where we were able to compare the two, examine the layouts, and purchase goods if we would like. On another trip, we toured an old communist neighborhood and learned about its greenery and food production. Finally, my favorite field trip took us to a vineyard where we learned about the production of wine, toured the facilities, walked through the vineyard, and ate a delicious meal onsite. Of course, being that we were at a vineyard, I had to take a few bottles of their wine home for later. They were all so good!
 Loving life in the vineyard

Our class project is to split into groups and prepare a meal. Each group picks a different region of Italy, has to make a primo (first course), secondo (second course), and a dolce (dessert) to prepare for another group, who in turn, critiques it and prepares a meal for them as well. My region is Emilia Romagna, which is located in northern Italy. The meal my group and I have to prepare is tagliatelle alla bolognese (pasta with meat sauce), bollito con salsa verde (boiled beef with green sauce), and creme caramel (a sort of caramel flavored flan).

This class is definitely something I have never experienced before, nor would I ever be able to experience if I did not study abroad. I mean how cool is it!? Learning about the history of food and wine in Italy, being able to taste and experience it, cook it, and take field trips to some of the places they are produced. Full circle learning over here in Italia and I am so grateful I have gotten to experience it!

Courtney Blanchard is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy. She is currently a senior at Stockton University.


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