Exam shazaam & Vinitaly

I read somewhere that on this day in 1755, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was born in France. He wrote The Physiology of Taste, about the pleasures of food, published in 1825 when he was just 69. I should like to add that a couple of centuries later, on this day in 1955, my dear departed parents were married; it was their enduring joke on the world to elope on April Fool’s day. The last anniversary they celebrated was their 46th, shortly after my return to Canada in 2001.

We wrote our much anticipated food technology exam on Friday which got me thinking, as I perused my notes in the lead-up, about how learning really takes place, particularly in an aging and over-full human brain. The information actually retained probably had more to do with affection for the instructor than interest in the subject. For example I’m not sure, having supposedly completed the course, that I even know what is meant by the term sensory analysis; my understanding of the term is all tangled up in my enduring incomprehension about statistical methods which appear to have been the main topic under discussion (for many reasons it was hard to know really what in that class was being discussed). On the other hand, I feel sound in my understanding of olive oil technology which included harvesting and milling operations as well as chemical make-up and regulatory issues around extra-virgin olive oil. Reading my notes again brought the pleasures of the class back to mind in a way that doesn’t normally happen, I think.

Our much-loved instructor in that class, Sandro Bosticco, who had also led us gently, kindly and knowledgeably through a couple of wine tasting classes last week (one of which I wretchedly had to miss, felled by another short-lived stomach bug), reappeared to lead us through the terrifying expanse of the Vinitaly show yesterday, which also features an olive oil exhibition, Sol. He took us through an oil tasting at a producer who was promoting a high quality blend of extra-virgin olive oils, called Gemini, which successfully combined the punch of Tuscan with the flavours of Sicilian. He then led us back into the Tuscan wine pavilion where we sampled some Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Which of course is not to be confused with wine from the Montepulciano grape, as earlier explained by our Montepulciano-growing friends in Le Marche).

The rest of the day was an exhausting but pleasurable tour of a few select producers under the wing of our campus director, Carlo Catani, no slouch in the wine area himself, particularly when paired with another distinguished varietal, the university’s director Vittorio Manganelli. We lunched in the Puglian pavilion and saw again our old friends orecchiette and agnello, but the best thing on my plate was the starter, a lovely little timbale of melanzane bathing in a pool of fresh tomato sauce and jauntily garnished with shreds of cheese and a chapeau of basil leaf.

Would you go to a wine tasting in this pavilion?

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