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From Amateur to Awesome: Lessons in Roman Cooking

by Hailey Lindblom
From Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian Cooking | AIFS Study Abroad

If you are anything like me, the sad reality is that you do not cook.

It’s not that I am not good at cooking, but rather, that I have never really cooked. Of course, here in Roma, now that I am living in an apartment and not in a dorm, I really need to start cooking on my own. I am a little nervous but also pretty excited. I need to learn what and how to cook first. Luckily, there’s a class for that.

Recently I attended a cooking class provided by AIFS. It was held on a Tuesday night and lasted about two hours. We took a short walk from school to a private apartment where we would have a personal chef teach us the proper way to cook Italian food. His name was Chef Giuseppe, and he was very nice. His passion for food captivated us and made us want to learn everything he could teach.

There were only a few who came to the event, but we were still very excited. That night we were going to make two versions of Carbonara. One would be with zucchini and the other with pork. And for dessert, we would be making a yogurt cake. I was nervous that I would not enjoy the dessert, but I was eager to try it.

We learned that the first rule to cooking is to have clean hands. After we finished cleaning our hands, we sat down at the table and listened to Chef’s rules on what to prepare first in the kitchen.

Step 1: Start with dessert.

Comincia con dolce.

It was weird to think that we would start with dessert rather than finishing with it, but in the end we learned that this was honestly the best way to begin. We prepared the cake and put it in the oven to bake.

From Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian Cooking

Step 2: Prepare the entree.

Prepara il secondo piatto.

During this step, we chopped the zucchini and cut up the pork. We also made sure that the food that needed it was washed. During this step we also made sure that we started heating the water so that it would begin to boil, and we could throw the pasta in.

Step 3: Get to cooking.

Inizia cucinare.

Now that the water was boiling, we would throw the pasta in and take the cake out. We also started to make the sauce for the pasta, so once the noodles were done we could just mix them together and eat.

From Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian CookingFrom Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian Cooking

Step 4: EAT.

Mangia!

Finally, it was time to eat. Now that everything was prepared, it made sense as to why we made the cake first. During the time we were preparing the pasta, we allowed for the cake to cool so we could enjoy it as soon as we finished eating. Chef did a wonderful job teaching us the proper way to cook.

From Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian CookingFrom Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian CookingFrom Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian Cooking

There are more cooking classes to sign up for, and of course, I signed up for all of them. So hopefully more delicious images of food will appear on your computer.

Not only do I have to learn how to fend for myself, but so do my roommates. So far we have learned that a lot of the ladies know how to cook, and we have put their knowledge to good use. We have decided to have “family nights” on Wednesday. Family nights consist of all six of us eating at the dinner table. One person (or maybe multiple) decide what will be made for dinner, and we all pitch in money for the grand total of the price.

Before any of the cooking happened, we had to go to two different grocery stores in order to get everything we needed for the dinners. It was really fun going into a store that was not like our own back home. Everything was mainly in Italian and some items were hard to find, so we had to ask for help a couple of times. Eventually when we found everything, we headed back to the apartment to begin cooking. So far, we have had two delicious family dinners.

From Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian CookingFrom Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian Cooking

At the first family dinner, we had homemade chicken parmesan. It was a really great dinner and we had a lot of leftovers that we got to experiment with.

It is so exciting to watch the girls’ passion for cooking each night when they are preparing dinner. It is also wonderful to see bright smiles on their faces when we all rave about how wonderful the food was. The second family dinner we had chicken and potatoes.

Both dinners were amazing. It was interesting to see the roles that each member of the apartment took. We had different roles for cleaning up and for preparing the food, setting the table, and saying a prayer. I of course, took the lead on dishes. Knowing that I am not ready to partake in cooking, I gladly accepted the job of doing the dishes.

From Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian CookingFrom Amateur to Accomplished: Lessons in Italian Cooking

After really considering what I have learned from these two different experiences, it was made clear that you need to try different foods; despite knowing if you will like them or not. You will never know unless you try. It has been a true blessing to be able to cook and try different foods as well as witness others creating their very own masterpieces. I am hoping that one day I will be able to make my roommates a dinner that they will talk about for days because they enjoyed it so much. Another goal of mine is to go back home and start cooking Italian dishes for my family and to leave them in awe of my greatness.

With that being said, make sure that you always try and don’t be afraid to fail. If you do not fail, you will never learn. Get out there and experience this world. Try new food, go into a grocery store that you have never been in before and ask for something in a different language. Learn to cook and find what you love to do in the kitchen.

It’s just like what some people say…. the way to my heart is through my stomach!

This post was contributed by Hailey Lindblom, who is currently spending her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in Rome, Italy.

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