Cooking Lessons

Sagra dei paesi morianesi – smallAfter living in Lucca Province (Tuscany) for eleven years, I’ve learned some lessons about cooking lessons.

Lesson 1: When you’re here in Italy, there are many more interesting ways to learn about the food culture than by holing yourself up in a kitchen for a cooking lesson.
Lesson 2: There is no such thing as Italian food in Italy. It only exists in restaurants outside Italy. Within Italy there are regional cuisines which are a mosaic of individual family traditions determined by the soil, climate and history of each region.
Lesson 3: Typical Tuscan cuisine relies on excellent raw ingredients cooked in very simple ways.
Lesson 4: It doesn’t make sense to take a cooking lesson without knowing how the best raw ingredients are produced and tasting the difference between them and mediocre ingredients. If you go home and buy industrial produce, the result will be poor and you’ll be disappointed.

I’m giving you the benefit of my experience for free: don’t take a cooking lesson. Educate your mind and palate and meet extraordinary people by coming with me to learn with artisan producers.

See Day Adventures to discover a few of the many activities available. To get a copy of the full list, fill in the Enquiry Form. Since agriculture and artisan production is seasonal, be sure to state the dates you’re planning to be here.

If you get withdrawal symptoms when you’re not in a kitchen, then see below for lessons that introduce you to the ingredients and their producers as well as teaching you how to use them in typical dishes of the area. They are available only in the Province of Lucca. Maximum 6 people. No children under 6 years old.

ravioli ricotta and nettles

Cheese and ricotta

Visit cheesemaker to learn how to make cheese and ricotta
Italian worker’s lunch with wine
Cooking lesson in cooking teacher’s home or at your apartment or villa (including two dishes using ricotta: ravioli and ricotta tart)
Dinner with wine

Fees include activities listed above, recipe booklet, apron, Sapori e Saperi guide to explain and translate. Transport can be arranged for an additional fee.

1 person: €350 euros
2 people: €235 euros each
3–4 people: €190 euros each (children 6–10: €100 each)
5–6 people: €140 euros each (children 6–10: €100 each)

poor person fish

Seafood

Visit market on pier at Viareggio to choose your fish fresh off family fishing boats
Seafood cooking lesson at Gabriella’s home nearby
Lunch with wine

Fees include activities listed above, recipe booklet, apron, Sapori e Saperi guide to explain and translate. Transport can be arranged for an additional fee.

1 person: €220 euros
2 people: €170 euros each
3–6 people: €155 euros each (children 6–10: €100 each)

Marzio shows how to pick a tomato

Cooking with babbo

Babbo is the affectionate Tuscan word for ‘father’. We’ll go to a tiny hamlet where the Paganelli family has converted a former chapel into a mountain eyrie. There’s no menu. We go with the flow and help Marzio cook a simple meal. He might ask if you’ve ever picked a tomato, and if the answer is no, out you go to the veg patch. Have you ever got water from a spring. No? Now’s your chance. This is also a lesson in Italian family dynamics. Who rules the roost in the kitchen? Husband or wife? Languages: English, Portuguese, Italian.

Fees include cooking lesson, ingredients, wine and apron.

1 person: €180 euros
2 people: €130 euros each
3–6 people: €115 euros each (children 6–10: €80 each)