Cooking Classes Abroad: Bring Home a Souvenir that Isn’t Extra Baggage

Posted on November 3, 2011

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“How do you know when the fruit is ripe?
Simple, when it leaves the branch.”
— André Gide

Immersing yourself into a new culture is all about exploring the unknown and growing as an individual. Cooking classes are great ways for American students to learn a new skill, and bring home a souvenir you don’t have to pack: a new recipe for a great dish.
By Andriana Evangelista

In every major European city, especially those known for their particular style of cooking, you’ll find listings for cooking classes. Different organizations and individuals offer cooking lessons — each producing a unique experience due to the different setting.

Who Teaches Cooking Classes in Europe?

Cooking classes are taught by:

  • Culinary Institutes. Cooking schools offer workshops for individuals and groups. These offerings can be found online or posted on bulletin boards around the city.
  • Local Residents. Natives of the country will sometimes teach a cooking class, maybe even out of their own home.
  • Agriturismo. Or “Agri-tourism.” Some farms allow travelers to visit or live on their land in exchange for help in the garden. Some of these locations will provide group lessons on how to cook using the produce from their crops. You can even learn more about cheese, wine and olive oil from the actual small farms that produce them.
  • Friends. Perhaps the best way to learn a new dish is to spend time making friends with locals. Give an American cooking lesson in exchange for a foreign one.

More Than Simply a Recipe

A foreign cooking lesson is more than just learning how to cook. The experience will stay with you for a lifetime. There are a lot of reasons to take a cooking class while abroad, so remember that this is an opportunity to:
  • Satisfy your curiosity and sense of adventure.Feel stuck in a rut? The best way to get back your passion is to try something completely different. You don’t have to cross an international border to have a new experience. You can get one right in your study abroad home base.
  • Discover yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Don’t think you can cook? Now is a great time to learn. The best way to learn to cook is by simply doing it, so don’t be afraid to try. You might just surprise yourself with your new set of skills.
  • Practice and learn the native language. As you’re cooking, you can also practice learning the names of techniques, ingredients, dishes, and how to say “This tastes amazing!”
  • Increase your knowledge of the culture. As you’re cooking and learning from a local, you can ask questions and learn from one another. This is a great way to see how people live and eat — important cultural knowledge to gain.
  • Bring a new recipe home, which is something you can continue to reuse and share for a lifetime. Each time you make your dish, you can talk about this one time, when you were young in Italy…

The Time it Takes

Cooking programs are offered in different durations, ranging from a single day to multiple weeks.
  • Studyabroadlinks.com has a Cooking Study Abroad Program Directory. Here you can search in countries around the world, specifically the European countries France, Italy, and Spain. You can pick a location of interest and select from the choices offered in that city.
  • Check out New York Time’s article, In Europe, Cooking Classes for Every Palate. The article provides cooking classes throughout Europe, all taught in English. The countries include Austria, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Turkey! They list opportunities as low as 30 Euro.
  • Viator.com provides their 13 Cooking Classes in Europe in the cities of Athens, Cannes, Florence, Nice, Paris and Rome. The site also gives details on price, ranging from 50-175 Euros, as well as the duration of the class.
  • For more information on agriturismi italiani, visit http://www.agriturismo.it/.

And remember as, Harriet Van Horne once said, “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

Have you ever taken a cooking class in Europe? Do you have any advice, or a particular program to recommend? Post it in the comments below – and Bon Appetite!

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Posted in: FOOD