One of the latest travel & tourism trends that is experiencing a huge growth in popularity among travelers from all over the world is taking cooking classes in Italy! The boom of TV cooking shows and the increasing number of celebrities that choose to spend part of their holidays approaching the art of cookery are driving people to learn the secrets of cuisine in loco. When it comes to food, the most renowned country is without any doubt Italy: the number of cooking schools is growing and so is the number of well-known Italian chefs that are sharing precious tips with tourists.
Why Take Cooking Classes in Italy in 2015
2015 is definitely the right year to learn how to cook Italian food for at least two reasons. First, the next Universal Exposition will take place right in Milan: the Expo’s theme focuses on food, nutrition and sustainability practices – this means that people who are eager to learn food secrets will find themselves in the right place at the right time! Visiting Milan’s Expo is a one-shot opportunity to learn the basics of food while taking cooking classes around the country gives you the essential expertise to prepare delicious Italian meals once back home. The second reason is more pragmatic – 2015 is the year in which U.S dollar will continue growing. After years of a stronger Euro, the U.S dollar is progressively gaining ground and is believed to almost hit parity with the European currency. This trend has a simple and appealing meaning to the American travelers: cheaper holidays and, of course, cheaper cooking classes in Italy!
Why Take Cooking Lessons While on Holiday
A critical moment everybody faces sooner or later during a trip is to choose the right souvenir to bring back home. This decision could easily turn into a dilemma for two main reasons: hesitation over the wide range of items available and concern about having spare room and weight in your luggage. The best solution to avoid getting into these jams is to opt for something that doesn’t need to be carried back home, lasts forever and is more in step with a trip to the land of food: a cooking class! This new type of souvenir is getting more and more popular among tourists not only because leaves you a priceless gift but also because it is the best way to dive into the real spirit of Italy, a country in which food tradition, hospitality, and passion for heritage blend into something unique.
Where to Learn How to Cook in Italy
Cooking classes in Italy vary depending on the place you take them. Together with many dialects and habits, Italy has a great number of unique regional kitchens – in some cases you may even discover different dishes and traditions within the same region! Such abundance may confuse tourists and lead to unsatisfactory experiences. What you really need before booking your cuisine lessons in the Italian land of food is the following list: a map of major Italian cooking lessons along with a clear explanation of Italy’s kitchen diversity. After checking this list you will be able to choose the cooking course that best suits you!
Piedmont: Truffles and Chocolate
Piedmont is the land of the Slow Food movement and homeland of Eataly, the world-famous giant of food. The variety of geographic scenarios (valleys, lakes, hills and mountains) provides local chefs a great selection of ingredients. Above all, it is worth mentioning truffles (the “White Truffle of Alba” is sold every year through a world-renowned auction), rice (Piemontese rice paddies are the symbol of the region), vegetables, and a large selection of wines, considered here as a real ingredient for cooking food.
Typical Menu: Bagna Cauda (a warm dip made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter and cream eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables in it), Brasato al Barolo (beef, venison or wild boar braised in Barolo red wine), and Gianduiotto (a chocolate produced from a paste of cocoa, hazelnut and sugar).
Cooking class in Piedmont: Cooking lessons in the land of Slow Food
Lombardy: Risotto and Cotoletta
Hosting the Universal Exhibition, Lombardy is the Italian region in the spotlight in 2015. Its cities have different culinary traditions because they have been isolated from each other for a long time – therefore today is hard to talk about a “Lombard cuisine.” Milan, with its world-famous risotto and cotoletta is still the main center of regional food but there are some other areas that are worth a visit. Como’s cuisine, highly influenced by its lake, is rich of fish; in Mantua they still cook medieval recipes; in Valtellina you find specialities of the mountains such as Bresaola (air-dried salted beef); Cremona is renowned for its Mostarda (rich condiment made with candied fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup); and Bergamo provides the world-famous Taleggio cheese.
Typical Menu: Risotto alla Milanese (saffron-flavored risotto), Cotoletta alla Milanese (the world-famous Italian fried cutlet), and Panettone (sweet bread with candied orange, citron, and raisins).
Cooking class in Lombardy: A Small Group Cooking Class in Milan
Veneto: Fish, Vegetables, and Tiramisù
Comprising sea, valleys, lakes and mountains in its territory, Veneto’s recipes are extremely varied in accordance with its geography. There are two main actors in the Venetian cuisine: fish and vegetables. There is a great variety of fish, including crabs, octopus, scallops, and squids – cooked in different consistencies. Among vegetables there are some special products, such as Trevisano radicchio and peas. Two more ingredients, very famous outside Italy, need to be mentioned: Riso Vialone Nano, a high quality type of rice, and Asiago cheese.
Typical Menu: Risi e Bisi (it’s the Venetian dialect for Rice and Peas), Sarde in Saor (fried sardines soaked in a sauce made of vinegar, onions, raisins, pine nuts, and sugar), and Tiramisù.
Emilia Romagna: Pasta, Parmesan, and Prosciutto
At the top of the national cuisine for variety and taste, with a very old culinary tradition that goes back centuries, Emilia Romagna is the flagship cuisine of Italy and the source for many of the vital, staple ingredients that Italian cuisine is known for: Pasta (lasagne, tagliatelle and tortellini above all) comes from this territory, especially the freshly made variety; Parmesan cheese is Emilian; Prosciutto comes from Modena, Mortadella is Bolognese, while Culatello is produced in Zibello. And the list is endless: the finest vinegar in the world is produced in this region, the Piadina, the typical Italian flatbread, was created here, not to mention the huge variety of wines (Lambrusco above all).
Typical menu: Tortellini in Brodo (ring-shaped pasta stuffed with a mix of meat and cheese, served in broth), Lasagne alla Bolognese (made by interleaving layers of Lasagne with layers of sauce, made with ragù, bechamel, and parmesan cheese), and Zuppa Inglese (despite its name, which means “English Soup”, is a custard-based dessert).
Tuscany: Fish, Meat, and Almond Sweets
Sober, clean and simple, these are three adjectives to define the Tuscan cuisine. No frills and keep it simple! – these are Tuscan chefs’ mantras to keep attracting foodies from all over the world. The great fame of Tuscan recipes is due to the absolute quality of its basic elements: bread and oil above all. But Tuscan cuisine is also rich with amazing soups (made with genuine vegetables, cooked for hours and enhanced with extra virgin olive oil added raw before serving it) – among which fish soups stand out, with Cacciucco as flagship dish – and meat, its wild game is particularly tasty thanks to its uncontaminated territory. Last but not least, desserts, the authentic jewel of this kitchen: Panforte, Cantucci and Ricciarelli (all made with very sweet Tuscan almonds) are widely loved by food enthusiasts.
Typical menu: Cacciucco (many say it is the best fish soup of the peninsula), Bistecca alla fiorentina (made from Chianina bovines, rare and refined animals bred in Val di Chiana – by far the best steak in Italy), and Panforte (a medieval Christmas cake rich with spices, almonds and candied fruits).
Lazio: Carbonara, Gnocchi, and…Passion
The secret of its dishes is so simple that it might sound surprising for such a renowned cuisine: simplicity and what Italians call ingredienti poveri –ingredients that in the past were inexpensive and easily accessible. If you take a closer at some of world-famous Lazio dishes you will soon notice this: Carbonara is made with eggs, cheese, and bacon; Gnocchi‘s main ingredient are potatoes, used to stretch the expensive white flour; Porchetta (a very tasty version is Porchetta di Ariccia) is nothing but a pork roast. But what makes this delicacy so unique is the quality of ingredients and that inimitable Italian passion for food!
Typical menu: Spaghetti alla Carbonara , Coda alla Vaccinara (a modern Roman oxtail stew made from oxtail and various vegetables), and Maritozzi (enriched buns made with dried fruit and filled with whipped cream).
Campania: Pizza and Limoncello
This is one of the richest and most varied cuisines of all Italy. Thanks to its climate and geography, which alternates between seaside and mountain, and even volcanic rock (Vesuvius), a great culture of food and wine has developed through the centuries. Pizza, the most famous delicacy of this region (and unquestionably the best “food invention” in history), sums up the deep soul of this region through its ingredients: Mozzarella di Bufala, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in its valleys, and Pomodoro San Marzano, the world-famous variety of tomato that grows in its volcanic plains. But Campania is this and much more: Limoncello is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, near Sorrento, Paestum artichokes, the tastiest in Italy, and, last but not least, their great variety of fish from the many coastal towns.
Typical menu: Pizza, Spaghetti alle vongole (Spaghetti with clams), and Babà (a small yeast cake saturated in hard liquor, usually rum, and filled with whipped cream or pastry cream).
Cooking class in Campania: Neapolitan cooking: fruits and flavors of the Mediterranean sun; A day in Mamma Agata’s Kitchen (shared cooking class)
Sicily: Mediterranean Food and Cannoli
Sicilian cuisine finds its roots in centuries of invasions from Mediterranean populations. Its dishes, in fact, reminds us of specialities of Greek, Arabic, Spanish and other Mediterranean civilizations. This sumptuous and colorful cuisine has two basic ingredients connected to its geography: fish, thanks to the island’s never-ending coasts, and vegetables, growing in its fertile hinterland. But the real centerpiece is to be found right at the end of a meal from Sicily. Some Sicilian sweets are world-famous and contributed in spreading the Sicilian culturearound the world: Cannoli, Cassata Siciliana and Granita are authentic sweet masterpieces!
Typical menu: Arancini (fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and filled with ragù, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and peas), Caponata (cooked vegetable salad made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, with capers, olives and pine nuts), and Cannoli.
Do you think you are ready to book cooking classes in Italy? Discover many more on Select Italy’s website, choose your favorite one and tell us in the comments!