Mamma Agata's Italian cooking class on the Amalfi Coast
Luca, from the Summer In Italy staff, attends Mamma Agata's Italian cooking school in Ravello and finds out that there is much more to be found than just cooking.
If you are spending a holiday on the coast of the Campania region (Amalfi, Sorrento, the Cilento National Park) and think that it might be "nice" to attend an Italian cooking class to be able to reproduce at home the memories of your vacation... well, Mamma Agata is a lot more than just a regular cooking class, and "nice" is not the word to describe the experience - it doesn't even get close! We have been there to witness it with our own senses, and it has been a truly exciting day.
What are Mamma Agata ingredients? Can't reveal all of her secrets, but some of them will become apparent the moment you walk through the small entrance gate of her home in Ravello: warm and gracious hospitality, refreshing smiles, breathtaking views, peaceful surroundings, an amazing terraced vegetable garden where Salvatore, Mamma Agata's husband, grows vegetables, herbs and fruit that taste so special that you might be wondering whether those that you buy at home should even be called by the same name: that's zucchini!
A day at Mamma Agata's begins at 10.30. You are welcomed in by Chiara, Mamma Agata's daughter, who speaks perfect English and has the gift of making you feel part of the family as she shakes your hand for the first time. Chiara will give you a short presentation of what's ahead, and, to make sure that your stomach is warm before you enter the kitchen, a healthy piece of Mamma Agata's famous lemon cake - you don't want to pass on this one. Chiara also has got another gift for you: a Mamma Agata's apron, to wear throughout the day and to take home. Mind, this is a magic apron: it gets soaked with cheerfulness and memories during your cooking day in Ravello, and gives them back when you wear it at home, for the rest of your lifetime.
Cooking time! As you are done with your cake, Chiara takes you to the kitchen, where you meet Mamma Agata. For the next three hours, you will be part of an energetic cooking class. You are invited to roll up your sleeves and try, or you can just watch, if you wish. The kitchen is filled with the finest produce of the area, from freshly baked bread to mozzarella cheese to whatever Mother Nature recommends you base your meals on in the season. And Mamma Agata knows how to turn these recommendations into a real feast for the senses: it looks good, smells great and tastes excellent! Throughout the class, Mamma Agata will have you taste many different tidbits: don't be shy and make yourself at home - every bite is worth it!
Once cooking is over, you are just halfway through your day with this lovely Italian family. It's now time for a stroll in the garden. Going down the steps, in front of the impressive view of the coast of Amalfi, you can feel what is like to live in a place like this, amidst an untouched environment, waking up every morning to a life made of sun, sea, beauty. Going back up the steps, carrying up with you whatever fresh produce you were willing to pick from the garden, your legs will recommend that you think twice about giving up your job to start farming the hills of Ravello!
While you were strolling in the garden, Chiara has been dressing the table. Sit down and enjoy the delicious Italian meal that you have cooked together with Mamma Agata: eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti of the farmer, chicken with lemon, zucchini flower pizzelle... all served along fresh and tasty Italian bread, mixed salad, local wine and with a selection of Mamma Agata's own liquors to top it all: the famous limoncello, as well as tangerine, fennel and more. Aaahh… it will be hard to leave (and much more so if you have had too much alcohol!!).
A day with Mamma Agata and Chiara truly is a day to remember. It is something that goes beyond what any cooking school could give you: it's the feeling of having found part of your family in Italy. And as you stroll back home through the alleys of Ravello with a smile on your face and a fuzzy, warm, feeling in your heart, you will suddenly realize that you are still wearing your apron.
If you are spending a holiday on the coast of the Campania region (Amalfi, Sorrento, the Cilento National Park) and think that it might be "nice" to attend an Italian cooking class to be able to reproduce at home the memories of your vacation...
Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!
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