About the Cookery Programmes
Whether you choose a course, al Castello (‘at the Castle’) or alla casa di Silvestro (‘At Silvestro’s home in Lecce’), this is our approach.
We at The Awaiting Table Cookery School do things differently. With our cookery programmes, our philosophy is simple: you can only learn so much by watching someone ELSE ride a bike. In short, we don’t believe that dumping pre-prepped ingredients into a sauté pan is really teaching, nor watching it, really learning.
By Day Two of a typical week at either location (either al Castello or alla casa di Silvestro) you’ll have garlic under your fingernails, semolina flour hand-prints on your apron and maybe a hotspot on the side of your hand from a chef’s knife. And your face will probably hurt from laughing so much.
By the morning of Day Three you’ll be stepping up to use your new Italian to chit-chat in with Simone the vegetable guy, making jam with Emiliana in the afternoon and then grilling a sea bass over olive wood coals at night.
By Day Four your orecchiette will suddenly stop looking like mangled row boats. By Day five you’ll no longer feel compelled to follow recipes, and you’ll be on your way to cooking in a new way, learning to cook by paying more attention when you eat, enjoying what you’re eating more because you cooked it.
It all starts in the market, where the world-famous produce from Puglia is at your fingertips. We’ll browse beautiful displays of fish that have never been even refrigerated, the clams still squirting, the shrimp still wiggling. Sweet and pulpy tomatoes, suggestive enough to make the pope blush. You’ll crunch into bread, hard and crusty outside, dreamy and yellow inside.
You’ll grill lamb, roast rabbits and chicken, organic meat that has never done time inside plastic wrap or styrofoam tray. And working with all these ingredients, you will gain a sober insight into the Salento’s historic poverty, and how this delicious, heart-breaking and inventive cuisine was their means to combat it.
Even in only a week you’ll pick up enough Italian to greet our greengrocer by first name, asking what’s fresh and exceptional that day. You’ll get a sense of our local history—not in dates to remember, but by what you see around you, the sense of the place.
Time it right, and you’ll pick figs right off a fig tree, take a basket and set of shears and fill your cradled apron with herbs from our Mediterranean herb garden. You’ll learn to make gelato in the summer, bake winter fruit in the colder months, we’ll eat it together, taking our time around the table. And just as a typical week is never all that typical, together we’ll spend the time together, getting to know one of the most magical parts of Italy.
Our typical week always changes, whether it’s field trips to wine cellars, olive mills or local, dinky food festivals. Maybe it’s a street concert, a local folk dance recital for ten year olds, the mayor showing up to give a speech. Often we spend an afternoon, grilling outside. No two weeks are ever the same, but all of them reflect the season you choose to visit.