I went to Italy seeking inspiration. Did I find it? Yes. Did I find all the answers I was looking for? No. The school I attended was fantastic and exceeded my expectations, the food spectacular, the people wonderful and the scenery breathtaking. But, instead of feeling sated with as much as I learned about food, language, and culture I left the country feeling like there was much more for me to absorb.
The experience gave me plenty to ponder, one of those things being teaching. I am going to say something and I hope it does not sound preachy, but I think that all teachers should be required to return to school to experience being a student again. Turning the tables makes it very easy to evaluate effective teaching methods, gives us insight into our own strengths and weaknesses, and reminds us to have empathy with our students. Simply put many teachers forget what it was like to be a student, and if you want to be a great teacher you probably shouldn’t.
I was reminded of how wonderful it is to be a student, and how easy it is compared to work! Studying is fun!
I was reminded that my love and passion for food has never been greater.
I learned I could eat more than I ever dreamed possible. But, a couple weeks before leaving I thought to myself “I can’t go on eating like this much longer”; I could not believe my mind! About half way through the course the Japanese students began to ritualistically rub my belly. Il Pancha was my name.
I can’t tell you how many incredible meals I ate while listening to crappy American music, the culture is far from perfect.
I could get great espresso at any roadside gas station, but I can’t get one here even at the local Starbucks?
I am more committed than ever to the Slow Food Movement, and to supporting local food which is good, clean, and fair.
I did discover a deeper passion within myself to learn more about our country’s regional traditions, products, and cooking techniques. I feel more compelled than ever to pass my knowledge on to others and help fight to restore and protect the great food heritage of this country.
I would like to send out a sincere thanks to all that helped make this possible especially the students, faculty, and staff at the Art Institute of Charlotte, and to my wife and daughter who experienced La Dolce Vita with me. Go out and buy some locally grown products from a farmers market near you and go home and cook some real food with your family! Keep it fresh, and keep it simple! Buon Appetito