The Hippo


Apr 23, 2019








Wirtzburger wraps a pork roast in pancetta. Photo by Blanche Milligan.

Upcoming Cook’s Tour classes:

Sunday, Feb. 22: Campania (Naples)
Sunday, March 22: Emiglia-romagna (Central Region)
Sunday, April 26: Nord (Northern Region)
A Cook’s Tour of Italy cooking classes
When: Sunday, Jan. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Souhegan High School, 412 Boston Post Road, Amherst
Cost: $50 per class. Cost includes demonstration, recipes and four-course meal. Register at 

Italian flavors
Cooking class serves up dishes by region

By Allie Ginwala

Take your taste buds on an Italian adventure and learn how to make dishes from across the “The Boot” with A Cook’s Tour of Italy cooking classes. Starting Sunday, Jan. 25, Lucia Wirtzburger will lead a class each month for four months, showing guests how to cook a four-course Italian meal. 

“What we’re doing in the series is taking different regions of Italy and showcasing typical foods from that region,” she said in a phone interview. “We [Americans] think Italian food is one thing, but it’s not.”
Separating the classes and courses by location “just seemed like an organized way to do things,” Wirtzberger said. She wants people to understand that there is more to Italian food than pasta, pizza and cheese. Sure, if you visit Italy you can eat pasta everywhere you go, but you won’t be eating the same dishes in Campania as you would in Emiglia-Romagna.
In her demonstration-style class, Wirtzburger will teach a group of about 20 people how to prepare an antipasto, pasta course, main course and dessert. 
“I’ll actually prepare these in front of the group step by step,” she said. 
Wirtzburger will also share tips about how to translate the meals to home kitchens. 
“While I’m chopping onions I might be talking about a basic sauce and how they can interchange ingredients and find certain ingredients,” she said. “They’ll be given the recipes to take home with them.”
January’s class is all about the island of Sicily. The antipasto will be Caponata, a vegetable dish with marinated tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and onions. The pasta dish will be Spaghetti alla Norma, with eggplant, tomatoes and cheese, and the main course will be pork tenderloin with marsala wine and orange. To wrap up the day, Wirtzburger will make cannolis with homemade shells and ricotta. 
Throughout the cooking process, Wirtzburger will share facts about the foods that tie in with the region they’re from. For example, two ingredients making their way into a number of Sicilian dishes are eggplant and tomato, which Witzburger explained has historical connotations. 
“Eggplant is a big vegetable in Sicily because it’s very meaty, and throughout history there hasn’t been a lot of meat available in Sicily, because of the economy and the climate,” she said. “So they would turn to the meatier types of vegetables, [and] eggplant became a staple.”
Designed to encourage lots of chatter, the Cook’s Tour classes are open to any background and level of experience. 
“A lot of people that come to these may have an Italian background and a lot of them will talk about going to their grandmother’s house every Sunday,” Wirtzburger said. “It kind of gets conversations going ... sharing some heritage.” 
Following the class, the group has a chance to share further when they sit down to enjoy the meal together. 
Wirtzburger hopes that the class will instill “a joy of cooking and a joy of eating and a joy of eating together,” she said. “I try and pick dishes that are pretty simple because most Italian cooking is pretty simple.” 
As seen in the January 8, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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