Tastes of Italy Cooking Classes with Venise en Provence
Admittedly, I have the chance to see many beautiful photos of Provence.
Hard work, but someone has to do it…
However, looking at Giuseppina Mabilia’s gorgeous food photos I had to stop myself from drooling.
Clearly, this talented lady who hails from the Veneto region of Italy has a talent for cooking, presentation and photography. Giuseppina Mabilia lives in Goult a village she describes as authentic, with a warm ambiance in particular at Café de la Poste where you can expect a heartfelt bonjour from a stranger.
Giuseppina Mabilia first started coming to Provence (from Italy) in 2004; it was a turbulent time for her between relationships. The Provencal way of life, Mediterranean cuisine and an invitation to cook for some clients on holidays (in 2007) slowly evolved into the next chapter for Giuseppina. In peak season, Giuseppina might be engaged as a private chef for visitors who prefer not to eat in restaurants during their whole trip.
I asked Giuseppina whether there is a big difference between cooking styles and ingredients from Italy’s Vento region and Provence.
“Yes, there are differences in local ingredients and many times I cannot cook Venetian because I don’t have the right items. For some non-perishable things like the rice for risotto, polenta and Prosecco I can bring them from Italy. However, I miss vegetables like the small artichokes and some thin-skinned, sweet eggplants from the island of Sant’Erasmo. The winter salads that we can only find in Veneto. The white asparagus from Bassano del Grappa, the red beans from Lamon (a small village in the mountains), the sopressa that looks like a huge salami but it is different in taste.”
She says in her opinion Provencal cooking is closer to Tuscan in style.
“Venice has a long history as a powerful republic that traded goods from the Far East; it was a sort of crossroads of many cultures and its peculiar geography that goes from the sea to mountains in the north contributes to the richness of its cuisine. The main difference is the use of spices in Venetian cooking is an important part of recipes. In the 14th-century, we had 72 different spice blends for cooking. Even the simplest plate has a sort of “elegance” by itself; colours are also different, more subdued.”
Venise en Provence Giuseppina’s cookery school launched two years ago. Her kitchen is an easy walk from the heart of Goult. There are so many options for cooking classes in Provence; I asked Giuseppina what make’s her school unique.
“What makes my school different is I love to discover forgotten recipes both in Provençal and Italian cooking. I create a “fusion” between French and Italian Cuisine with a twist of Venetian style. What distinguishes what I do is that I try to cook with a minimum of ingredients as for what I called “the absolute tomato sauce” and people are surprised at how good it can be.”
Venise en Provence classes run for five full days for a maximum of 6 students. Full details are here. Giuseppina can recommend comfortable accommodation within walking distance.
Can you take Italy out of an Italian?
“Even if I am proud to be Italian and that Italy has a big tradition for markets I must say that I prefer Provençal ones as they have a very generous offering of different goods. What makes a difference are Farmers’ markets, in Italy we are centuries away from France in this regard. I love to shop at markets in Coustellet or Petit-Palais.”
It helps when you can find a secret stash…
“My biggest joy was to find two herbs in Provence that are very sought after for my homeland. I am talking about hops, better known as a flavour in beer making, and Silene Vulgaris. We use them to make a most appreciated risotto, or for cooking with eggs, like a frittata. I found what I call “my secret garden” amongst some ruins.”
Whether you are looking for a private chef, a week of cooking in Provence or a single day, get in touch with Giuseppina via email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website for more details. You will not be disappointed as this is a lady who says that “food is more about been together and sharing rather than just eating.”
Image Credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Giuseppina Mabilia