Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let it Roll

As a designer I just think that I should know my way around a kitchen before I make recommendations to a client that they will have to live with. I love to cook. I love to prep. I love to invent. And I know how to move and utilize the space I'm in.

So I decided to challenge myself. I enrolled in a cooking course on making pasta, ravioli, sauce and  gnocchi at the Rev. Oreste Pandola Learning Center in St. Leo's Parish in Little Italy, Baltimore. I wasn't just in for a treat - I was in for a treasure. In the basement kitchen of the learning center, my instructors - Joe Platerote, his mother Josephine and Terry Giogilli demonstrated the art of  hand made dough and how to create an Alfredo sauce. And they made it look so easy. My turn. My egg yolks escaped from the flour mound, my fingers clumped with flour as I chased them across the stainless steel prep center.

And I thought I knew how to cook.

"Your dough has to be as smooth as a baby's behind" was Joe's definitive instruction. And with a little muscle and watching the technique Terry deftly demonstrated, I got it down. Jospehine nodded her approval. We then rolled out our dough and made our very first fettuccine. As the Alfredo sauce came out hot and loaded with enough butter and cheese to clog an artery, we heaped it all on a plate. We enjoyed not only the lunch, but the camaraderie of the group effort while putting it all together.

All this for a modest fee. I questioned the cost and the answer I got was that they do it for the love of cooking, the tradition of sharing recipes and techniques handed down from generation to generation. That simple joy brought about by a sharing of knowledge to others with a passion for embracing a simple meal.

"This is how my grandmother made it"...I heard expressed more than once.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon I have to give pause to reflect on the reason I love to cook and design the space where the act of cooking becomes an art. There's a little more to it, I realized, when I sat down to reflect.

It's about serving love on a plate. It's an offering of "I made this just for you." It's a gift from the heart. A gift that those lovely instructors from Little Italy gave an awareness to - by sharing their love of their traditions with me. And the best way for me to celebrate that tradition is to continue to pass it on. 

And so enjoy, mange, eat, share and share some more. Share the memories, the traditions and the moments that make us all just a little richer. That pinch of salt, that crack of the egg cannot be measured by an instrument alone. Just as those fleeting moments become memories passed down from generation to generation can only be measured in time.


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