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This week, ten of our students (accompanied by supervisors and fellow culinary enthusiasts Jarret Voytilla and Lindsay Clark) departed Florence for Emilia-Romagna, the region north of Tuscany that is home to some of the most famous ingredients in Italian cooking. After a week-long sensory exploration, the ten students will return to Florence and prepare an authentic Italian gastronomic exposition for the students and staff of TGS.
The purpose of the Emilia-Romagna weXplore is to explore the gastronomic heart of Italy, and for our students to use all five of their senses to find out why Italians are so obsessed with food. There will be cooking classes, a chance to follow ingredients from farm to table, and individual opportunities to explore the aspects of Italian food culture that most pique their curiosity. And while we can’t unfortunately share their savory creations online, we can share a selection of highlights from each day.
Day 1: Agriturismo San Guiliano
The trip begins in the countryside at Agriturismo San Guiliano, a farm stay, where we will start our food exploration with where food begins! Our students will get their hands dirty on a laid-back farm, preparing vegetables for local businesses and our own cooking experiences.
Day 2: Anzola dell’Emilia
On Day 2 of our weXplore, our students will take a cooking class to learn the basics and gain insight on the local traditions of cooking and cultivating ingredients.
Day 3: Modena
After their experience in the countryside, our students will head to Modena, and on the way we will treat ourselves to a scoop (or seven) of gelato at the Gelato Museum. Modena is home to many famous Italian ingredients, and our students will have the chance to explore the city on their own or take in a tour of personal interest. We make one small request: keep their senses tuned for ingredients and dishes to use during the TGS gastronomic exhibition.
Day 4-7: Bologna
Bologna is Italy’s gastronomic hub, so it’s only right to slot in a few days of our time there. As we explore the city, admiring its storied monuments and parks, we’ll take a pizza course, go hiking with local alpinists to keep our bodies active, and keep our eyes peeled for chances to discover new ingredients and recipe ideas for our gastronomic exhibition back in Florence. And if all goes well, we can invite our new local friends to try some of our newly-learned dishes!
During their time in Emilia Romagna, our students will spend time collecting some of the region’s best ingredients to bring back to Florence for preparation. And on June 3rd, working as a group, they will collectively prepare for the rest of TGS a gastronomic exhibition featuring their favorite Italian recipes passed on from our local contacts in Bologna.
This gastronomic exhibition will:
• be a team effort
• be hygienic and delicious
• be accommodating to the various dietary needs of grade 10, 11, and staff
• be presented in a manner that the Iron Chefs would be proud of
As the TGS famiglia enjoy the meal, our weXplore participants will be encouraged to share their favorite aspects of Italian food culture at the table in what we’ll call “dinner tales.” We view student reflection as an integral component of place-based learning at TGS, and dinner tales will be a fun and lighthearted way to bring the excursion full circle.
We still have a month left to go in Florence, Italy, and we’d love to hear your recommendations for restaurants and dishes that simply can’t be missed. Feel free to weigh in in the comments below!