Learning to Cook Italian and Making New Friends

Yesterday, Douglas and I drove to a small city called Cerratina for a cooking lesson. We were prepared for a esoteric experience, as I thought of Italian cooking as difficult to do. But while it was more elbow work than expected, the actual making of pasta was quite interesting.

We were greeted by Rosy and her mother, Annabella. Italians kiss you on both cheeks, which was quizzical for me, so I nearly was kissed on the lips as I kept trying to cease the greeting with just one hug. It was comical, but we all got through it without any embarrassment. I knew from that first moment that we were in for a treat.

There were appetizers and wine, to begin. I drank lemon water, not wanting to start drinking alcohol in Italy, and end up dancing on tables. We had different meats, chickpeas, pickles, and liver in small bites, and everything was delicious! As we enjoyed the snacks, Rosy explained what we would learn, and gave us a great lesson on Italian food in the Abruzzo region.

I was momentarily taken aback when I learned that we would make pasta dough from scratch. Anyone who knows that I can burn water would have thought she was jesting, thinking she could teach me something so manual, but, I did good. But, Douglas was the maestro, as I had to sit down a lot, due to still being weak and sore.

Douglas preparing the dough for ravioli.

We used semolina flour and learned the differences in flour. We used a pasta cutter over 100 years old, which had been in their family for generations. We cooked chitarra spaghetti, using a tool that looked like a miniature square harp, ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese, and cookies. I mixed flour, eggs, salted butter, baking powder with vanilla already added, almonds, and the zest from one lemon to make biscotti maltagliati for dessert.

I have so much respect for Italian cooks, for preparing food takes time and energy. They get up early to make the pasta dough, for it has to breathe under a bowl for two hours. No fast food here! Cooking consists of patterns of kneading dough that gives you muscles and which has been done this way for centuries, holding families together.

Rosy was such a gracious host, and her mother, Annabella, and I laughed a lot. Then, after cooking, we sat down to a beautiful table with flowers, with Douglas and I facing the lovely hillside scenery, and ate a wonderful meal with Rosy, her husband, son, and Annabella. A different wine was served and we ate our cookies but also cake by Rosy that nearly took my breath away! We were there six and a half hours! Coffee and tea with Rosy’s father completed the day.

Rosy accommodated the fact that I was allergic to peanuts and Douglas to shellfish. She also wrote down places to see before we leave the area next week. It was a wonderful day. If you visit this part of Italy, you should take advantage of Cooking with Rosy. When I receive the pictures from her, I will post them. I didn’t think to take more pictures, but stuffing myself with good food always takes precedence with me!

Fandango prompt is Quizzical. Ragtag prompt is Patterns. Word of the Day is Jest. Your Daily Prompt is Esoteric.

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