JFRC Cooking in Orvieto
Cooking in Orvieto felt like such an authentically Italian experience that I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun. The trip did not disappoint. The experiences I had in Orvieto were exactly what I was looking for when I decided to study abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. We began the weekend by meeting up with “The Etruscan Chef,” Lorenzo Polegri. He owns this fantastic restaurant in Orvieto and that is where we spent Saturday cooking.
Lorenzo met us at the train station and right away he asked us if we wanted breakfast. (The correct answer is always yes when an Italian offers you pastries and a cappuccino.) After we were full (for the first time this weekend), he brought us to the market in Orvieto and we began trying food and buying the foods that we would later turn into a delicious lunch. It felt so authentically Italian to have this chef take us around the marketplace and tell us what to try.
After we were loaded up with vegetables, meats, olives, honey, and other delicious eats, we headed to his restaurant to begin cooking. We got to work right away and he helped us make pizza, pasta, bread, chocolate mousse, and more! It was fantastic to learn from a real chef, and it was great that we were given some freedom in the kitchen as well. Honestly, we were still full from the wonderful food we had for breakfast and at the market, but we were still able to enjoy the lunch that we cooked. This experience was amazing because what we were eating just felt so Italian and so real that we made the food ourselves. After free time in Orvieto, we returned to his restaurant for dinner and had another wonderful meal. That night, I went to bed very full and very happy.
The next morning, I got to start the day by picking olives on the chef’s farm and it was the best morning I have had in Italy thus far. It was great fun to pick olives and it was something that I never would have experienced while traveling on my own in Italy. We ended the weekend by pressing the olives into our very own oil at the local olive mill. This is a souvenir that won’t last me long, but the memories will last me a lifetime. After pressing the olive oil, we went back to Lorenzo’s farm and had some gelato and wine before heading back to the train station and back to Rome.
Honestly, this experience of cooking in Orvieto was the exact “authentically Italian” experience that I was looking for. I had hoped for experiences that will stick with me for a while and this weekend did not disappoint. While Italians no longer pick olives by hand, doing so connected me with what it was like to live in Italy when these crafts were first being cultivated. This weekend was filled with things that can easily be branded as “the most Italian” and there was not a moment where I went without food, which also felt very Italian. These memories are not ones that will easily be shaken, much like the olives on the trees that we spent the morning picking.