Now that I am living alone and have a temporary 'home' (I have now lost all concept as to what that word actually means), I am trying to adapt to this strange new life. Gone are the lingering weekend mornings making bacon sandwiches for the man I love, conjuring up the occasional evening meal for us to share and being cocooned by familiar and loved surroundings. Instead I am renting someone's flat, using their crockery, putting my food in their fridge and eating my solitary salads in their garden. Cooking for one just does not have the same appeal at the moment.
In a period of change however, I have found one delightful and unexpected pleasure and a new outlet for my passion of cooking. La Cucina Caldesi cookery school.
I have assisted at two classes so far and love the sense of satisfaction that helping others to cook brings. Encouraging children who are timid about handling food to attack dough with gusto. Gently helping a grown man to delicately slice an onion. Explaining how to use a food processor and why one toasts spices and pine nuts to release their aroma and flavour. Preparing a tortellini filling of ricotta, sage and parmesan for the chef, collecting all the ingredients from the restaurant's kitchen and gently stroking the beguiling skin of a perfect aubergine in the process.
It is long hard work and I have never washed up so many pots, repeatedly, in my life and by the end of the day I am very tired. But in a glowing way, happy in the knowledge that I may have helped just one person to gain a little more confidence with food, have encouraged one person to try a new flavour and have met a variety of characters in the process. And I am learning a huge amount in the process and particularly about foods which I would not cook for myself (due to gluten and dairy being involved) such as pasta and bread.
Yesterday with the charming Ursula Ferrigno the class of eleven adults made pasta, bruschetta with caramelised red onion and young pecorino, baked stuffed courgettes, meatballs, goats cheese and grilled vegetable focaccine and a glorious hazelnut meringue gateau. Wonderful aromas, a mingling of like-minded strangers and a combination of beautiful Italian flavours. Now that's a recipe!
Oh and if your self-esteem has taken a bit of a knock, I heartily recommend running in and out of a kitchen full of young Italian chefs all day. Yes, yesterday was a good day!
(I forgot to ask Ursula or the school if I could post a recipe hence the absence of one. I shall remember however to do so this Friday at the childrens class).