Italian Memories

Emilio, the handsome Italian chef, made it all look so easy, as he flipped the asparagus in the heavy sauté pan. Although we will never attain his expertise or his passion for cooking, watching his demonstrations were inspiring. When we tore off the anchovy tail cleaning those glistening creatures – looking nothing like the ones curled up in a small can under olive oil – he would smile graciously and fix our mistakes. Our little pasta curls (like tortellini) did not have the finishing snap of his, but they still tasted good.

After class, one on my fellow students brainstormed the chef’s tips, and we vowed to remember them when back in our own kitchens:

• Flour before egg when frying
• Vinegar on a sponge to wipe the edges of the plate
• Break eggs by gently tapping against each other
• Separate yolks by carefully straining through your hands
• Split asparagus before cooking
• Never microwave chocolate to melt (my mortal sin)
• Never roll out pizza dough; stretch and make dimples with fingers; less flour makes dough harder to handle but better to eat.

These are all I remember, but when the fog of Italian wine and sweets – and gelato – lifts, I’m hoping to recall more. Do you have cooking tips to add?

My friends from Chicago are planning a dinner party to reprise some of the recipes we made. I know I will smell that lemon almond cake across the ocean to my lanai.

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