Banos Familia

A place to gather events, ideas and family...all in one place, while we are far away

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Roman Holiday...and then some....

It was my second Thanksgiving in Europe, and again, somehow, even though I was far away, the day's significance stuck out my mind more than ever. There is something more poignant, I guess about being an American when one is in charge of remembering. At home, I would have been bombarded with familiar scenes and rituals, those of which I am fond of and reliant upon, but which do not require much from me to remember the day. Thanksgiving at home equals family and being together, and not so much about being an American..more about being a Banos. Being forced to acknowledge the day on my own terms made it more real, more there.

The day was spent at an all day cooking class in Florence, with our Italian "life coach" Judy. Judy, an American from Memphis, has made a career out of hosting Americans for Italian immersion: she teaches how to shop, eat and live like an Italian--and she is darn good at it.

Our first task was to get aquainted with Judy--learn more about her and where she came from, and how she managed to carve out such an terrific life for herself in Italy--one that I am sure everyone fantasizes about. She originally started out as a pastry chef in San Francisco and in the mid-eighties, she chucked it all to move to Italy and do the same there. She quickly learned, however, that the Italians are not so quick to dole out culinary approval, and she had to earn her stripes working as a waitress, asking questions and absorbing as much as they would allow. Eventually, she earned enough credibility to go it on her own and she has done quite well at it. Here's her website:

Wine Store
She squired us through the seemingly neverending lines of stalls of fresh produce, meat, cheese, and specialty items in Florence's Central Market, a few steps away from Judy's apartment. It was certainly a dynamic feast for the senses. Total, unadulaturated sensory overload of the best kind--laden with the two mainstays of any Italian diet: truffles and porchino(pork).

Dizzy from sampling and tasting and smelling and looking, we made our way back to Judy's apartment to begin our work.

We had decided on our menu: In the traditonal Italian way, we started with antipasto of wild boar salami, venison sausage and cheeses. A primi piatti of freshly made raviolis stuffed with pear, ricotta, pecorino and parmesan in a butter sauce followed. The secondo piatti consisted of roasted pork ribs, wrapped around a pork tenderloin, coated with an erbe toscano with roasted potatoes seasoned with truffle salt (!!!). A salad of oranges, arugula, parmesan, olive oil and vinegar comprised the contorno and for dessert, a twist on the classic tiramisu with berries instead of coffee.

It is true that it is not hard to eat well. What is essential is the very best ingredients that one can find, simply prepared. Food that tastes like what it is supposed to, without messing it up with extraneous tastes and textures. The food we made was exceedingly delicious, and was, in fact, extrememly easy to make! I took copious notes, trying to gather on to paper the secrets to beautiful food that Judy seemed so effortlessly to understand.

The meal was terrific. (needless to say)

We did do a few other things in Italy other than eat! Click on the link below to see more:


At 7:03 PM, Blogger NOLAcathie said...

Sarah the pictures are gorgeous. Made me feel as if I were there. I think this year your Thanksgiving may have even topped ours...what a feast! Thanks for sharing Italy with all of us.


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