Whenever we talk to students about their study abroad experience after coming home, there is a recurring theme that each and every student will talk about for hours.
Whether it’s Italy’s pasta, Spain’s churros, or Asia’s curry, the tastes of our destinations stick with us. Like an old song, we seek out those forgotten flavors in hopes of recreating our experiences abroad. But no matter how great the corner bakery may be, it’s just never the same as snagging a market baguette in Paris, is it? Not.Even.Close.
Instead of paying oodles to try (and fail) to recapture what you ate while abroad at an American restaurant, I suggest making it yourself.
When I was in Rome, I had the unique opportunity to take a weekend cooking class with a few other students through my host institution, the Lorenzo de Medici. Our chef/teacher/guru was Giordano Franci, a professor at LdM Tuscania campus. He was trained in Rome, Paris, Munich, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and probably a hundred more places I could only dream of. He was a real professional and a great teacher. We started with ingredient preparation and ended with true, Italian-style pasta, complete with homemade pesto, steak, and mustard sauce garnish. I used to frequently over-cook my steak. Now I can tell when it’s done with one touch. We learned how to properly present a meal and the importance pairing wine with the flavors of a dish. It was perfect.
I always say that learning is the best souvenir one can bring home. Instead of trying to describe how awesome that pasta was, I was able to come home and make it for my family. They got a small taste of Italy through me, and they loved every bite! Whether you are practiced in cooking, or brand new to the kitchen, I encourage anyone to take at least one cooking course while abroad.
Now whenever I start to feel nostalgic about Italy, I don’t have to rely on the sub-par spaghetti bolognese from an over-priced restaurant. Instead, I whip out my noodles, boil some water, and get to work. Taste aside, the cooking brings it all back.