The trans-substantiation of peas and carrots into salami and cheese: four Americans’ journey to Italy to learn the arts of Italian salumi and cheese-making

Hello, hi there.  This is the first posting for a new, straight-from-the-trenches electronic carrier-pigeon that will deliver  the various fun, mind-stimulating, and culturing experiences that we (Michael, Aaron, Patrick and Charlie) will have over the next six or so months as cheese and charcuterie artisans in training.  The program which we are enrolled in is located in the little Italian town of Moretta in the Piemonte (or Piedmont, as it’s called in English), a region world-reknowned for its incredible food and wine and, among other things, the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

As students, our primary objective in Moretta is to learn as much as we can about our respective crafts.  Aaron is enrolled in the meat-curing (or salumi) course, while Michael, Patrick and I (Charlie) are doing cheese.  Unlike Michael and Patrick, I have no background whatsoever in cheese-making.  I love to cook and I like the idea of doing-it-yourself, so I see this year as a real opportunity for me both to expand my understanding of Italian cusine and to pick up practical culinary skills.  The prospect of learning Italian by immersion (I hate formal language courses) is another plus (from what I’m told, all lectures and coursework will be in Italian), as well as the window into Italian culture–and hopefully doorway to new friendships–which learning Italian will open up.

As I wrap up loose ends here in the San Francisco Bay Area, dozens of questions are swirling through my head, some political, others professional and personal.  I don’t really know what to expect once we get to Italy, but it’s new and exciting.  Who knows what lies in store.

That’s all, I guess, for this posting, more to come later.

This posting by Charlie Kalish


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