Viva Italia and Bad Sausages

In the near future, I’d like to get my master’s degree in Italy, with a concentration in food history and communication. To prepare, I’ve been buying up every book I can find that is used in the masters programs at BU and NYU. I’ve also been reading up on the history of Italian food. I don’t necessarily want to make Italian food my specialty, I just have a personal interest because of my Italian heritage and upbringing. Fate sometimes throws me a wink, and I was assigned the country of Italy for my International class presentation. I had three weeks to research before my presentation day.

The research was overwhelming — I had no idea Italy’s food had such a complex genealogy.I finally managed to compress thousands of years into a 10-minute presentation, complete with an Italian tenor to serenade the class while they tasted cheeses and meats from each region. I didn’t do it alone. My partner, J, focused on the presentation of designated origin foods while I took care of the history. Together, we made a great team and I have a much deeper understanding of the places and foods that define my family.

Sausages were, and still are, a big part of my family’s diet. Several months ago, after learning about the sausage company my great-great grandmother started in Providence, Rhode Island, I began experimenting with Italian sausage recipes, trying to recreate her famous flavors. I came pretty close and really fell in love with the sausage-making process.

Needless to say, I was excited to start making sausages in garde manger class, until we had to taste them. We’ve made them twice in class, using two different recipes. Each has been incredibly dry. And because there are usually three or more students making the sausage, it becomes a long and tedious process with attention to detail lost along the way. I know why they’re dry, butwith somany hands in the pot, none of us are really able to control the mixing, stuffing orcooking process. Regardless though, I’m learning what not to do when it comes to sausage making, which is also valuable.

Next week we’re taking a break and focusing on sandwiches and then back to sausages. Hopefully third time will be a charm and the sausages will come out moist and perfect.

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