Learning to Cook like an Italian

If you want to learn how to cook an authentic Italian meal, start by bypassing the trip to the supermarket and go to one of the traditional markets here in Florence, such as the Central Market in San Lorenzo or the Sant’Ambrogio Market, to obtain the freshest foods and ingredients possible.

That’s exactly what the Florencetown cooking classes do with you in order to teach you how to cook like the locals. Your small, intimate group meets with your chef in the morning before being taken on a tour of the Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo. Here is where you will find the freshest meats, fruits and vegetables in the city, as well as some things you’ve probably never seen before, such as traditional Tuscan fare like trippa, lampredotto, lingua (tongue), cinghiale (wild boar) and loads of other uniquely wonderful things.

Throughout the tour, the chef is explaining what certain things are, where the foods are produced and what kind of meals can be made from them, as only a classically trained Italian chef can. As you go, your chef is also picking up the various ingredients required to make whatever you’re learning to cook later in the day. This time, it’s fresh, handmade ravioli stuffed with ricotta, a traditional Bolognese pasta and sauce and, for dessert, tiramisu.

From the market, the group goes around the corner to the cooking studio where you’ll learn to cook a traditional Italian meal.

The tiramisu has to sit in the refrigerator for a time, so despite in only being about 11am, the dessert has to be made first. Once that’s in the fridge, making the pasta sauce is next, because that also takes some time to make.

The process of making fresh pasta from scratch might not be particularly complex, but it does require certain degrees of patience and discipline to succeed; laziness will get you nowhere but right back to the planning stages.

After the pasta has been made and the ravioli has been stuffed and seasoned, it’s finally time to enjoy the fruits of nearly five hours of work, along with a couple bottles of Chianti. Although you’re probably still pretty far off from being a fully-fledged gourmet Italian chef, being able to make these three dishes is a good first step, and a great way to impress your friends and family.

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