Italia Per Due: Adam, Angela, and the Italian Concentration
Follow the experience and adventures of Adam and Angela, bachelor’s degree students studying at The Culinary Institute of America who are taking part in an academic concentration in Italian cuisines and culture that includes a 15-week study trip to Italy. The concentration features a semester abroad at the Castello di Ugento, a newly restored 900-year-old castle in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s “boot.”
In addition to learning about Italian culture, indigenous ingredients, and culinary techniques, the CIA students traveling to Italy for the program will participate in “field trips” to markets, wineries, and local producers of products such as olive oil and cheese. It’s the trip of a lifetime that Adam and Angela are chronicling here!
“Focolare Domestico” in Italian means the ambiance of being around the fire. Fire in Italy brings people and families together as a source of heat and community. This has been true for us the first couple of days we have been here. The weather has been unusually cold—it snowed in Ugento for the first time since 1986! So having a warm fire has helped us to get to know one another, eat as a family, and play games together. Not many of us knew each other before we started this journey, but living Italian style has helped us go from strangers to friends in a matter of just a few days.
The first people in the morning who come into the dining room always light the fire and it stays lit until we all head to bed for the night. We all take turns heading out into the snowy courtyard to retrieve olive wood that we then bring inside to keep the fire alive throughout the day. Welcome to Italy!
By Adam Shoemaker
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Day One of our arrival in Ugento, Puglia, our group of 15 culinary and baking students visited where we would be taking our classes in the Castello di Ugento. Upon entering the garden of the castle, located in the center of the town, everyone was in amazement at the variety of plants and vegetables that Chef Odette has growing. We were told everything growing in the garden was edible and can be utilized, except for the grass. The list of possible ingredients is unbelievable including: capers, fennel, aloe, zucchini flowers, plums, lemons, tangerines, and oranges. Every direction you look in there were at least three or four different types of plants in view. The fact that these ingredients are grown right outside our kitchen, and we are going to explore different utilizations of them is very exciting.
Along with the awe our group was already experiencing, the views of the castle were breathtaking—which enhanced the overall experience and knowledge that this semester is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the Southern Italian culture and local cuisine.
By Angela Piccinich