April 29, 2015 – Taormina, Sicily

Good morning, Taormina!
Good morning, Taormina!

Today is an exciting day. We have contacted the hotel about setting up a cooking class for Sarah. When John and I were here six years ago, we also took a cooking class. Paolo, the manager here, has arranged for his father, Aurelio, to meet us in town and take us back to his house for the lesson.

We meet Aurelio at about 10:45 AM and the first thing we do is go to the market to see what is good and what to buy for lunch.

The local market
The local market

Aurelio chooses a cauliflower
Aurelio chooses a cauliflower

Sarah watches while Aurelio chooses and bargains
Sarah watches while Aurelio chooses and bargains

Round light purple eggplants from Sicily. "Not bitter" says Aurelio so there is no need to salt them.
Round light purple eggplants from Sicily. “Not bitter” says Aurelio so there is no need to salt them.

Everyone we pass knows Aurelio. He has lived here most of his life. At the market women tease him and the men pick out the best produce. When our shopping is done, we follow him to a bar for a quick cup of espresso. We are really getting the total experience!

At his house we meet his wife Angela and the two of them bustle around the kitchen showing Sarah how to make various dishes. Occasionally they even let her cut some things up. Our menu includes a zucchini casserole, involtini of spaghetti and eggplant, zucchini and eggplant stuffed with ground meat, and a dessert of fruit and a wine pudding/gelatine with raisins. Everything is freshly made from the flavored bread crumbs to the tomato sauce.

Big difference between the way their dishes and ours? First of all, the vegetables are so much tastier. This is because they just came out of the ground or off the plant. They only eat what’s in season. All the food is grown locally. And they use in one meal about the amount of oil that we use in a month.

Aurelio going over the menu with Sarah
Aurelio going over the menu with Sarah

Cooking together
Cooking together

Zucchini casserole
Zucchini casserole

Spaghetti and eggplant involtini
Spaghetti and eggplant involtini

Our plate also includes ground meat inside of zucchini  and eggplant strips
Our plate also includes ground meat inside of zucchini and eggplant strips

Kind of weird wine pudding with strawberries
Kind of weird wine pudding with strawberries

But neither Aurelio or Angela are overweight. Although they have cooked a lot, they take only small portions. Plus they have four flights of stairs up to their main living quarters and Taormina is full of very steep hills. While we are huffing and puffing following Aurelio around, he has no problem with the stairs and hills even though he is 76!

We all sit down to a very enjoyable lunch. By the time we leave we have been shopping, cooking, eating and chatting for about 5 hours. What an incredible experience!

Later we sit out on the deck with a glass of prosecco and a couple of small bites and talk about our day. We are way too full to contemplate dinner.
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