Exploring Italian Cuisine in Florence

Oct 26, 2021 9:57:00 AM / by Alexis Miller

Alexis and her CAPA classmates attended a free cooking class in Florence, Italy and got to make a sweet potato souffle, fresh pasta and sauces, and tiramisu all from scratch. Read all about her culinary experience here!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2021_CAPA Florence_Alexis Miller_Blog3Cover - Freshly made pasta at a cooking class in Florence

When I found out I had been accepted on the CAPA Florence program, I knew I had to come back home knowing how to cook! My friends and family know that I don't know a single thing about cooking, so coming back to the US with some cooking skills would be considered a miracle! 

This past week, CAPA provided my classmates and I a free cooking class with Chefactory Cooking Academy. Our instructors for the evening were Chef Stefano and Chef Francesco. My classmates and I all thought the class would be just a pasta making class, but little did we know what was in store for us! Before we started, I had to take a mirror selfie showing off my apron.

Mirror Selfie with Friends

Caption: Mirror selfie with friends.

At the CAPA Florence Center, I’m taking the Food and Culture course, and one of the things we learned is that a major factor of what makes Italian cuisine so good is the use of fresh ingredients. This was quite evident during the cooking class, as all the ingredients we used were fresh veggies or dairy products. We started off by making tiramisu (Don't worry mom—I didn't have dessert before dinner!). Stefano explained to us that we needed to make the tiramisu first so it would have time to chill. I was blown away by how simple it was to make. It took less than five minutes!

Next, we made sweet potato souffles and the sauces for the pasta. Each person at the table had a different role in contributing to make the souffle and the sauces. I was on souffle duty, and my job was to peel the sweet potatoes so they could go into the blender with the other vegetables. My friends had to cut carrots, celery, and onions for the ragu sauce. My friend Grace had the best job—she got to mash the tomatoes with her hands for the tomato sauce.

Grace is happy as can be mashing the tomatoes

Caption: Grace is as happy as one can be mashing the tomatoes.

I had always thought the best way to chop garlic was to smash the garlic clove with your knife first, but Stefano told us that we are supposed to be cutting the garlic clove in half so it doesn’t lose its juices. I guess my Nonna has been doing it wrong the whole time! We put the garlic straight into the oven and started working the true star of the show... the pasta.

The simplicity of the pasta recipe blew my mind! All we used was flour and water. Once we formed the dough, it was time to put it in the machine. Let me tell you this—I completely regret doing an arm workout at the gym before coming here. We had to crank the machine eight times to create the pasta, and it was exhausting but so much fun! All that was left was to cook the pasta.

the best arm workout - using the pasta machine

Caption: The best arm workout!

After our hard work, it was time to be rewarded. First, we ate the sweet potato souffle. I thought it tasted good, but it didn’t have a wow factor. Next, we had the pasta, and you could just tell that it was fresh by the color of the pasta being so light. The pasta just melted in our mouths; it was so soft!

Masterpiece - eating the dish that was cooked in the class

Caption: The masterpiece!

In my opinion, the tiramisu was the best part of the meal. It was crazy for me to comprehend that not only did I make that, but how easy it was to do so! This was such a fun experience and I will definitely be taking my new cooking skills back home along with sneaking a few tiramisus into my suitcase!

Most delicious tiramisu made by yours truly!

Caption: Most delicious tiramisu made by yours truly!

Thanks, Alexis!

Alexis Miller

Alexis Miller is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A marketing major from Ursinus College, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

Alexis' journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Florence Program

Topics: Florence, Italy, Food Abroad