That evening Fabio kept calling my phone. He told me a time and a place, but would tell me nothing more. Our B&B hosts drove us to the location, handed us a plate of homemade pepperonata and potato pizza, and said goodbye. In the distance we heard the fast rhythms and melodies of traditional pizzica music. There was a path that led through the old stone walls of an ancient farmhouse. Following the trail, the music grew louder, huge candles appeared to light the path. We rounded the final corner and saw- a party! An old wooden farm cart, a big table laid with food, and under a cabana two groups were playing the pizzica!
The happy end to our surprise party!
Fabio greeted everyone and I translated. Then we watched the band and tried to get everyone to dance!
The local and traveling girls all had fun dancing at Fabio's surprise party.
And last but not least, the icing on the cake (literally!), at the end of dinner, Fabio unveiled a cake! Made by a friend of his, especially for us:
Yes...and what a cake!
The next few days were filled with activities and friends. Our cooking class took on new proportions as this year we began, not in the kitchen, but in the fields themselves. Daniele took us to his plot of land in the country and we picked early tomatoes, onions and green beans.
Annie picked a huge onion for our cooking class.
Back at his house he showed us how to transform them into the delicious dishes we’d all grown to love. After all these wildly abundant meals someone asked the question: “Eating like this, how are you all not obese?”
Our cooking class "from the field to the table" was a smashing success!
The question brought out an interesting discussion about the eating habits in our respective countries. Their first response was that they don’t really eat such big meals everyday, just when company comes! But they also eat a lot of vegetables in the south, most of which are homegrown or local and therefore very fresh. And, Daniele’s wife continued, they also cook almost exclusively with olive oil and not, we began to laugh, with peanut butter like the Americans do! So we clarified a few things. That in California we make our own olive oil, grow a lot of veggies and many of us are pretty darn health conscious.
A beautiful plate of orecchiette al sugo!
She wondered if all we really ate in America were hamburgers, french fries and peanut butter. I’ve encountered this a lot traveling in rural Italy. The pictures they have of America really are of burgers, hot dogs and fries; of obesity; and of blond beach Hollywood. But then they meet us- a group of fit, healthy people from California, only two of six were actually born in the United States, and hopefully we bring them a better picture of the diversity and lifestyles found there. I explained to them about California cuisine, about the love/obsession with vegetables, and the art of salads which I believe California has perfected. And that we don’t haphazardly cover everything in peanut butter!