Fact: Even when they teach cooking classes, Italians do not measure anything.
Fact: I will never learn how to cook like an Italian.
Today was my first Italian cooking class at Nanuet middle school. Actually, it was more like a cooking observation. All of us foodies gathered around our short n' sweet chef, Mrs. Brancatelli, as she merrily prepared escarole soup with cannelloni beans. Despite her vigor and pleasant persona, the resulting product tasted about as interesting as its given name. (For those of you who don't know, escarole is just a fancy type of lettuce.)
I learned a few things about this medley of greens and beans. The first, that escarole grows in sand. And because of its not-so-sanitary upbringing, escarole needs to be scrubbed clean of dirt the way a homicidal murderer would scrub the bloodstain out of an ivory colored carpet. Thorough, ladies and gentleman. Meticulous and thorough.
I also learned that even this seemingly easy-to-make dish can ignite stress in the most neophyte of culinary arts students. One Irish-looking woman behind me threw her hands up in surrender as our Maestra took her third estimated 'pinch' of salt, which was cast into the soup among other 'approximated' ingredients.
"That's the problem with you Italians!" the woman behind me said, exasperated. "You never measure anything! And I come here to finally figure out how to cook, and you still don't measure!"
Our chef just shrugged, looked down into her pot of boiling beans and said, "I'm sorry, but it's in my blood. I just know what needs to be added in and I add it."
That's probably not the answer that Miss Irish was looking for. But I've come to the conclusion that as long as I can still eat like an Italian, I don't mind if I never end up learning to cook like one.