Back to school

There’s the inescapable edge of gold on the maple leaves, the geese are gathering on the Gorge and the wasps are getting cranky and slow. The blackberries are getting tasteless and starting to wither, the autumn apples are beginning to drop. Those of us blessed with the permanent-student gene are feeling itchy for new stationery, the crack of textbook spines, the scent of printers ink.

And so, narrowing my view to avoid inconvenient questions like how I’ll afford it, or how I’ll make 10,000 arrangements in 60 days, I’ve accepted a place in a year-long master’s program at the Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Colorno, near Parma in northern Italy.

No, it’s not a cooking course, or even a study of stomach ailments – at least not deliberately – just a year of learning about food. The courses include:

Food History and Elements of Food Culture
Wine History and Wine Culture
Food Anthropology
Sociology and Psychology of Food Consumption
Journalism and Web Page
Techniques of Food Photography
Sensory Analysis
Culinary Techniques

Field trips are required, throughout Italy and in France, Spain and southern Germany, in order to study pasta, cheese, cured meat products, oil and wine. Luckily it’s taught in English, as my Italian was bad even before it was rusty, though there are language classes and of course a lot of opportunity to practice. So now I have a couple of months to get ready for the next adventure.

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7 Responses to Back to school

  1. Ariel Gordon says:

    Hey Rhona…a friend of mine recently came into a windfall (literally) of apples and offered me half. I was grateful but not looking forward to a sticky evening of peeling and coring until she mentioned that she had a handy-dandy contraption that would do the job nicely.

    Lee Valley, which should be right up your alley, sells them for about thirty dollars and they’re a wonder.

    But then I like contraptions, especially ones that work and are well designed. For instance, the postage machine at work that licks and seals envelopes always seemed rather wonderful – a machine with a tongue!

    Anyways, I also wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed your blog, browsing over from Brenda’s site.

  2. Rhona McAdam says:

    Ariel, thanks for the idea! I guess you mean the apple peeler. A couple of people recommended them to me, and oddly enough I was given one for my birthday this year, but I’m not sure it will help me. It works beautifully on hard symmetrical apples – not so well on soft misshapen apples from my tree.

    I agree with you about contraptions in general though. I like the idea of machines doing work like licking and sealing envelopes. I want one of those robots that vacuums and washes floors…

  3. Wow! That’s awesome!

  4. Carla says:

    Sounds intriguing and fun. And sounds like its right up your alley. Congratulations on finding this gem. Enjoy!

  5. paula jane says:

    That’s absolutely amazing, Rhona! That’s the kind of Master’s everyone should get to do … speaking of which, I am happy to report I successfully defended my thesis yesterday, so I’m able to graduate this fall. So pleased to be finally done. (And there were no field trips with wine and cheese, so I think you’re getting the better deal!)

  6. Tracy Hamon says:


  7. Rhona McAdam says:

    Thanks all, and congratulations Paula Jane! We all felt your pain and I’m so pleased you managed to get that degree behind you. (And hey, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t send yourself on a post-grad wine and cheese field trip..?)