This past weekend saw the capstone field trip of the core course of the Food Studies Program, to Parma and Modena. After a semester of in-class learning and out-of-class workshops, students got to compare their knowledge to the reality of Italian food production. The first day afternoon students toured a small prosciutto production facility, one that has only three full-time employees. One of the two brothers who own and run thesalumificio (literally a “cured meats cooperative”), Carlo Lanfranchi, took students from one walk-in cooler to another to show them how fresh hams are turned, almost magically, into prosciutto di Parma, one of Italy’s most popular brands. Lunch began, of course, with an antipasto of prosciutto, followed by delicious ravioli filled with fresh cheese and herbs, a local classic. Dinner that night, after a holiday walk around Parma, was at the Osteria della Ghiaia.
Saturday students were up early to get to the parmesan cheese cooperative in time to see the cheesemakers separating the curds from the whey and pulling out what would become 110 lb. rounds of parmigiano-reggiano cheese (worth €500 each: watch the video here (for clips). This is a hands-on field trip, so of course after seeing the parmesan cheese, students got to taste it as well: two years of aging makes a delicious treat. The last stop on the “food pilgrimage” was the Acetaia San Donnino (a family-run business that makes real balsamic vinegar). Our host showed us the barrels of made from six different kinds of wood: the must is passed from one barrel to the next and only after twelve years is it ready for bottling.
Study abroad in Italy, study abroad in Perugia…and think about the Food Studies Program!