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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Made in Italy: Mami Camilla's Cooking School - Page 2

Written by Sherry Ott
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I joke around about being out of shape, but after eight months of travel, minimal workouts, and food from all over the world, I can still fit into my same old clothes. Compared to the rest of the world, I’ve always felt fit and athletic – that is, until I came to Italy.


The business was a family operation through and through. Biagio and Camilla had four grown kids, and each of them helped with the business. Augustino helped with the cooking school every day, Giuseppe was the accountant and worked with all of the reservations and finances of the place, and the two daughters came every night to serve the restaurant patrons. Then there was Palmyra, the woman who assisted at the school and was basically everyone’s shadow. Every time I put a dirty bowl or spoon down, she would have it picked up and washed quicker than I could blink. I honestly believed that she was the real brains behind that kitchen, she would shoot Augustino these discerning looks as if to say “you are putting too much salt in” or “the pasta is too thick” – but she never opened her mouth, she said everything in her face.

A typical class meant arriving at 4:30, having an espresso, eating some gelato made earlier in the day, then making the dough for the homemade pasta, and dusting off the pasta maker before creating every type of noodle imaginable. This was followed by a wine break, and then we typically moved on to peeling various vegetables, frying them, and preparing the pomodoro sauce. Finally, we’d work on the dough for the dessert or pastry for that night and make the base custard cream. In between all of this we would taste what we prepared as all good chefs do! After we wrapped up cooking, we’d join the other diners to enjoy the four-course meal we just prepared (and more liters of wine of course).


Every night as I sat down at one of the long tables for dinner I would meet new travelers that were staying at the bed and breakfast or hostel. Even for a social butterfly like myself it was overwhelming: the new people every day of all ages from different countries all with unique stories. I never tired of meeting new people, though. It was fascinating and stimulating, like going to a cocktail party every night.


i dolciPhoto: Augustino putting the finishing touches on i dolci

Since I was spending six nights a week at Mami Camillas, I talked to Giuseppe and rented an old, dilapidated, purple bike from him for the month. I figured that it would cut down on the time it would take to walk the mile and a half each way. The bike was about to fall apart, but it worked well enough to ride three miles a day on relatively flat roads – as long as I didn’t have to use the brakes too much! Since the bike was purple, I christened it my “purple pasta eater.” The ride home after several glasses of wine and a heavy meal was always interesting, a little Lindsey Lohan-esque. Even though the ride home often got my heart rate up and working, the workout was no match for the stick of butter and four eggs that I had just consumed.


naples fish marketChef Biagio was talking about the Napoli fish market one day in class, and I expressed an interest. He asked me if I wanted to see it, and of course I told him that I would love to see it! Markets are one of my favorite things to visit! The only downside was that it was open from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. every morning. So Biagio picked me up at 3 a.m. and off we went to Napoli in the middle of the night. Biagio is a big man, a really big man, and there would be no other person that I would want to go to the Napoli fish market with in the middle of the night more than him. Everyone talked about Napoli being a dangerous city, but the fish market in the middle of the night – well, that’s not in any guidebook.


(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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