Guitars make great pasta.

What do you think:

  • Tried cooking in Umbria?
  •  Social networking easier “hands-free”?
  • Lost touch with old pension contributions?

Tried cooking in Umbria?

A traditional old farm with its own vineyards and olive groves is the perfect place to learn about this robust rural regional cuisine.


There’s lots of emphasis on vegetables plus pork and game but little fish (just one lake species or dried cod).  Umbrians have become really enthusiastic about chilli over the last ten years –they grow, dry and grind to make fierce powder that heats many a recipe.  Salt is used with alarming liberality – a handful for the pot of pasta water but none in the local bread which all dates back to a medieval Pope and his salt taxes.  Typically, olive oil and garlic or onions are heated in a pan from cold to flavour the oil and wine is added as a “seasoning” so simmer off the alcohol of a glass or so rather than the half bottle.

Rosemary and I weren’t the easiest students for Italian fare: one no cheese, one no gluten.  But Raffaella still managed to help us produce a great selection of antipastos, gnocchi, spaghetti (how could I have lived without a pasta guitar?)

rabbit, guinea fowl, chicken, pork dishes – and four typical Italian dessert cakes.  Each morning’s cooking with just two other students produced our four-course lunch with left-overs for supper and indulgent breakfasts (cake!)

The season was late or we would have used more of the farm-grown vegetables along with their own jams, olive oil (cold-pressed extra virgin) and wines that are all produced by her undauntable mother-in-law.   In the stone barn conversion, we each had our own “apartment” of living/dining/kitchen room, bed and bathrooms – and could sit outside under the vines sipping wine or having breakfast.  The rain started in the first hour and built to crescendos of thunder and land-slides over four days but, with so much to do and enjoy, we barely noticed.View from farm

Now I’m back home practicing the recipes– new guitar to hand and a whole 5 litre can of oil surfaced from my luggage.  It’s probably heretical to add orange zest to torta caprese but it does go well with the chocolate and breadcrumbs at least add texture in place of parmesan.  (Thanks to Rosemary for the images!)

For more information about the farm and courses:  Let’s Cook in Umbria – Italy

Strada comunale San Marino 25 06125 – Perugia (Italy); +39 075 5899951/ +39 075 7823188/ +39 3406461480

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 Lost touch with old pension contributions?

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Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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