Out of the Classroom and into Umbra’s Didactic Kitchen
The Umbra Institute’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program (FSSP) now has a didactic kitchen: a kitchen where the goal is to learn more than simply a recipe. A real life experience is worth a thousand words; a meal can be worth a whole history book. Through a variety of food workshops and co-curricular cooking activities, FSSP students go beyond simply being able to differentiate between various types of cheeses, or comparing the product of different historical recipes. They learn how historical and cultural meanings meet in the kitchen, on a plate.
FSSP professors and guest lecturers use the kitchen to provide students with hands-on, non-credit-bearing activities through which they are encouraged to learn about:
The History and Culture of Food
What is cucina povera and how has it affected the Italian diet? Which “Italian” foods are actually from the Americas? It is one thing to read a textbook to develop a historical timeline and cultural context for Italian food and culture. However, active learning provides a deeper understanding of that which is studied, as students experience ingredients and recipes that relate to historical events and local cultural heritage, for example the making of fresh pasta during Sunday lunches in Umbria. Experiencing ingredient preparation for historical and regional recipes offers insight into how the general population lived in different times and Italian regions.
Sustainability in the Italian Kitchen
In the kitchen students experiment with Italian and Mediterranean cooking styles and recipes, learning how one can base their diet on simple healthy ingredients, paying more attention to wholegrain cereals, pulses, fruits and veggies that are in season, limiting waste, and learning how to design healthy and tasty meals. Umbra also hosts workshops with experts on vegan and vegetarian cooking, which are considered some of the most sustainable diets for the future.
The Economics of an Italian Diet
Not only does the Italian diet respect the environment, but it is also a friend to your wallet. In Italy, the average cost of pasta, vegetables, and fruit (in season) can be very affordable; while products (such as maple syrup) pertaining to foreign diets often come in small packages and at high prices. Umbra culinary series help students integrate the Italian diet into their kitchens in Perugia, familiarizing them with fresh ingredients and helping them sustain a healthy budget.
Click here for more information about the Food & Sustainability Studies Program.
In addition to FSSP co-curricular activities, the Institute staff also organizes occasional food workshops and other culinary events in the kitchen. Accepted students interested in taking part in these events should contact Umbra staff after arriving in Perugia.