On how we are different:
Chalkboard diagram 1), What students think they want to learn before coming. It’s often, ’to learn to make pasta’, or ‘to pick up a few new recipes’. Or even, ‘you know, be less dumb about wine’.
Chalkboard diagram 2) is what they actually learn here. And while much depends on the class, the way we teach is always the same. We teach context.
Come to ‘pick up a few recipes’, and you’ll learn how to walk into any fish market in the world and cook everything on the slab, and without a single recipe or even needing to know the names of any of it. You’ll begin to stroll through a farmers markets, collecting some of everything for the pot. You’ll learn to see wild field chicory not as just an alternative to spinach, but as 400 years of civil disobedience, of the poor sticking it to the nobility. And that why it’s one of the healthiest foods on earth (for non ruminates, the secret lies in the cellulose).
Come to ‘learn to make pasta’, and you’ll learn how the history of grain, and the validity of the ‘beer before bread’, argument in regards in human civilisation. Come for the week and you’ll make a different pasta shape every meal, all of them local, all of them made from an historical mixture of grains so low in their glycemic index that many of its calories are actually metabolised in the very digestion process. But that won’t be why you eat it, nor why you teach your friends and family to make it. (Hint: the secret lies in, well, that you just love it).
Come to learn, ‘how not to be dumb about wine’, and you’ll begin to see the Italian south as the most compelling wine region in the world today, paradoxically both preChristian, and technologically hyper modern.
You’ll learn to see the Salento as one giant tongue of limestone composed of little cadavers, what’s left of millions of years of stacked mussel and clam shells. And that what that does to our nationally-adored pinks is nothing short of magical. You’ll learn why one of Southern Italy’s great yet underpriced wines was secretly sold for Barolo and Barbaresco for generations, and how the world of modern banking changed that, even in the most recent vintages. Our wine school motto: teach deeply, pour generously.
Or maybe you think you’re coming to to learn how to make our annual tomato sauce or out excellent extra virgin at the castle. What you’ll take away is how to critically taste olive oil, not using bread but green apples. And learn about the role of the light bulb, and how it changed this part of Italy forever. You’ll learn that it’s not that Mediterranean eats olive oil but that the civilisations were based on it. And that learning how to treat it right in the kitchen might just be the most important thing that you didn’t know.