I've always thought that if I had to freeze a moment in life and relive it, over and over again, it would be a dinner party - a dinner party outside. One of my favourite alfresco dinner scenes is in Federico Fellini's Amarcord. The long rambling table, the quirky overhead sunshade, the accordion player, the copious bottles of wine, the wind, and the sentiments expressed by the drunken guests have always struck a chord with me. I think it's the unpretentiousness, the un-conrtrived, and un-self-conscious beauty of it that I love so much.
A couple of years ago we held an olive oil tasting and dinner that had some of those qualities. It was an evening organized with our friends Tonio and Jennifer, who run a series of workshops in Puglia, Italy named Messors. I don't think I can begin to explain the depth of knowledge, passion, and love Tonio has for his "home" and his willingness to share it with everyone. He is committed to preserving the history of food, art, and culture in this area. I've been fortunate enough to have been invited to join them for the past 4 years but it has never been "the right time". I've learned that there is no such thing as "the right time", so this is the year! We will be joining Tonio, Francesco, Julie Marr of Kitchen Culinaire and Nicole Kilburn for 10 days of intensive learning, cooking, eating, and beauty. I can' t think of any better way of learning to cook authentic, rustic food than from the people who know it best: a shepherd, a baker, a historian, an anthropologist, a Nonna, and a friend. These workshops take the popular concepts of "knowing the maker" and "knowing where and how it's made" and push it even further into a deep and unforgettable experience.
If you are a chef, a cook, a visual junkie, a lover of history or just curious about the culinary traditions of Southern Italy, we hope to see you there. As the photos attest, there will certainly be dinners eaten outside on long rambling tables!
Check out their website because in addition to the Culinary and Shepherding Workshop there is an Art Restoration Workshop, The Fornello Project and a Decorative Art Restoration workshop at the stunning Chateau Gudanes in France.
For more information contact Tonio at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs provided by Messsors and Andrea Reed
Sentiments: Janaki Larsen