I swear I didn’t mean to do it, but not more than twenty minutes into our first night of cooking, half the class was crying. The thing is when you really start to talk about cooking, I mean get down to the bottom of it and where to start, forget the measuring and how long the whole thing takes in the oven, I mean how you feel about what’s on the stove and does it move you. There is cooking, and then there is cooking. And the thing is, if you make yourself available to the food by taking it in through every sense available and then even with a sixth sense that connects you to the alchemy of cooking in a way that touches the whole of you, well then it’s not always so easy to keep all your feelings on the inside anymore and they come rushing up and over like milk left on to simmer.
Thank the good Lord for dough. We stroked it, kneaded it to life and rolled it to paper thin sheets of gold. By the end we had nearly recovered and were revived enough to take on dessert.
We had the classic Sunday menu of meat sauce made with a head of garlic slashed in half and bronzed in the olive oil, a sprig of rosemary, an onion cooked until you can hardly keep from eating it before it gets mixed in with the tomatoes, freshly ground beef, sausages and if you have it a few bones with a little meat on them, seared and stirred in, tomates that taste good straight from the can, and a small piece of carrot, celery and parsley before it is left to simmer for at least two hours. We layered that with white sauce and parmigiano reggiano, made just outside Bologna, and our noodles.
There was no need for more than a salad of fresh greens with olive oil, salt and lemon, and then at the end before we fell into bed, brutti e buoni (cookies of ground almonds, sugar and a little egg white) set on top of a mound of mascarpone lightened with whipped cream all set in a moat of red wine syrup.