Tales From Abroad is a series where The Collegian publishes a blog post from a UR student currently abroad, with permission from the office of international education.
There is no better way to learn about a culture than learning a typical grandma-style recipe at her home. Especially in Italy, a country obsessed with producing everything by hand and with a culture of passing down learning to create “from-scratch” meals. Last night, I signed up for a pasta-cooking lesson in Milan and invited my friend Ryan to come with me. There were three other Canadian girls to practice with us and have a peak into the masterful universe of home pasta making.
Our chef Aurora, is a certified chef in Italian cuisine that has several years of experience working in a top Italian restaurant in Australia. Her cooking philosophy, like most of the Italian chefs, features fresh ingredients and handmade traditional methods. Our menu for the day is:
- Tagliatelle from Bologna (with ragu sauce)
- Vegie lasagna from Liguria
- Orecchiette from Puglia (small pasta with Broccoli sauce)
First, we prepared the coffee for making Tiramisu. Finger biscuits, fresh milk, egg yolks, every ingredient are bought from the open market by our chef in the morning. Later, we chopped the meat and sausage to make the delicious Bolognese sauce for pasta. Here comes the secret word – Massage. With a little bit of a hand massage to the meat mixture, the sauce becomes more flavorful and the texture will be much softer.
In the pasta-making session, everyone seems a little stressed out. It is always pleasant to watch the chef preparing everything from scratch and people rarely realize how much effort it takes. It is in fact, a very, very tiresome job. We have to not only make sure the consistency of moisture is perfect but also force the pasta into standard shape. After half-an-hour of pasta making, we are all amazed by the amount of effort and heart it takes for a wholesome meal.
Now, time to dine. Having tasted our results after two and half hours’ preparation, we were all overjoyed by how delicious it tasted. Fresh made pasta really tasted entirely different than the hard pasta packet from the supermarket. The texture, consistency, and chewiness totally converted me into a believer of “from-scratch” Italian cuisine now.