While their friends and family ate turkey back home, William & Mary student Lauren Weiss and her classmates celebrated Thanksgiving weekend by eating prosciutto andparmigiano reggiano in Parma, Italy, as part of the Umbra Institute’s Food Studies Program.
“Going to Parma during Thanksgiving weekend made me forget about being away from my family and home,” said Lauren Cudney of the University of Denver. “And what else could you want during Thanksgiving but food galore?”
Through hands-on tours of family owned factories and cooperatives, the Food Studies students learned about the traditional and complex processes involved in creating some of Italy’s most famed food products.
“What I loved most about this trip was the deep-rooted, historical traditions that go into preparing a very specialized product such as the balsamic vinegar or parmesan cheese,” Weiss said. “Seeing artisans committed to producing the best quality food brought eating (the food) to a whole new level.”
The trip was not complete without a tasting at each of the factories. Students could finally put into practice the curriculum from the classroom and the information they learned on the tours and actually experience the food. A favorite part of the trip was tasting aged parmigiano reggiano and the unfamiliar but decadent treat of balsamic vinegar on top of vanilla ice cream.
“Like the other co-curricular trips, the goal was to learn about the production of these important food products but with a historical-cultural context,” said Food Studies Program Director Zachary Nowak, adding: “And it doesn’t hurt to try some great cheese, prosciutto, and vinegar!”
*Reprinted with permission from the Umbria Institute Food Studies Program