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Friday, April 1, 2011

What You'll Learn at Cooking Classes in Sicily

Palermo market stallImage by scotted400 via Flickr
By James Iozia

If you want to take cooking classes in Sicily during your vacation, you might be interested in something called "culinary travel". Culinary travel combines informal cooking classes with a tour of the island. You might call it a "tour of Sicilian food". But, you'll also get to see the craftsmen and the famous archaeological sites.

The group tours start in the market place, where tourists learn how the fresh ingredients are selected. Freshness accounts for some of the virtues of Sicilian food. The primary ingredients are grown locally, purchased at a farmer's market and usually cooked the same day.
Once the ingredients are selected, you can participate in hands-on cooking classes in Sicily restaurants or private homes, depending on the group that you tour with. You can also sample traditional Sicilian food by participating in "Agritourism".

Agritourism is a style of vacation in which tourists stay on and participate in the workings of a real farm. Nothing is fresher than something that was picked that day. There are many working farms on the island and a number of them offer this type of vacation. You might learn how to milk a goat or sheer a sheep, as well as how to cook some of the traditional dishes.
Because it is a large island with varied climate that includes subtropical areas, prickly pears, blood oranges and all sorts of citrus fruits grow on the island. Cooking classes in Sicily are quite varied in the ingredients and even the style that is used.
One of the things that accounts for the unique flavor of the cuisine is the unique flavor of the vegetables. Travelers have noted that the lettuce is especially tender and tastes something like milk. This is due largely to Mount Etna. Eruptions from the active volcano have fertilized the soil to an incomparable richness.
Sicilian food includes vegetables that are not grown elsewhere. For example there are varieties of artichoke that are unique to the island. In the early days, wild thistles, native to the island, were cultivated and eventually developed into unique cultivars of artichokes and cardoon.
Although there are a large number of Sicilians in America, their cooking styles were changed somewhat by the Neapolitan stores in New York. Some of the fruits and vegetables they were accustomed to could be found in these shops. Others, such as the spice saffron, were prohibitively expensive.
So, take some cooking classes in Sicily and enjoy the difference. If you love food, culinary travel or agritourism are great choices for your family's vacation.
James has loved Sicily for as far back as he can remember and he returns to this island paradise every chance he gets. His grandparents came to America from this beautiful land in the early 1900's, bringing with them all the tradition and passion that is Sicily. From the beautiful beaches and Roman architecture, to the heavenly food and romantic charm, he hopes you will come to love Sicily as much as he does. Stop by for a visit at

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