Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cooking. Class.

I met Paulette Licitra in 2008 at a Nashville showing of Food Inc, and I liked her instantly. Then I kept running into her at places where I was excited to be – a performance at the Nashville Ballet, a food-themed art show (featuring this artist), and a Southern Foodways Alliance Halloween costume party in Oxford, Mississippi. I was wearing a pink wig. She had a Carnival mask. We almost didn't recognize one another.

Paulette also is editor of Alimentum, a literary food journal, and I’m honored that she published a piece recently that I wrote called A Marriage in Meals. It’s one of the most important (to me) and heartfelt stories I’ve ever tried to put on paper.

In addition to writing and editing, Paulette leads culinary trips to Italy and teaches Italian-themed cooking classes (learn more at her blog, Cucina Paradiso). Raised in Brooklyn with a Sicilian grandmother, she fell in love with Italy when she spent time abroad there during school.

I attended one of her classes this summer. We began at the Nashville Farmers' Market where we browsed the stalls to find the ingredients that looked best.

Then we took them back to her house to make a meal.

We roasted sweet potatoes for risotto.

We roasted asparagus.

We grilled fat scallions and red peppers until they charred and sweetened for tossing with fresh pasta, basil and olive oil.

Paulette keeps classes small, so we can all get our hands in the dough around the table in her kitchen. I loved learning the simplicity of ingredients and process in the pasta. Just 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs.

For dessert, we sprinkled peaches with cinnamon and swaddled them in buttered phyllo dough before baking.

But one of my favorite moments of the meal happened when Paulette told a story about watching a man in Italy peel a fresh peach for dunking in white wine.

1 comment:

Beth said...

My friend and her mom are going on the next trip to Italy with Paulette and I am so very jealous!