Friday (Thursday) Letter, 8-10-17

Hello everyone. Thanks for the many greetings upon the return from my vacation.  As you might guess, this Friday Letter is inspired by my vacation in Italy with Dede.

We indeed had a great time. As with any vacation, we needed to find our rhythm as a group of 5 traveling together, especially in the heat of August Italy.  We endured 106 degree days in Rome.  Air conditioning and iced drinks were a premium.  As new and experienced travelers we found our way through.

Highlights for Dede included the general audience with Pope Francis, visits to the home towns of her grandparents, wine and pasta, and (of course) our cooking class. Challenges of the trip included lots of walking, heat, and an apartment in Florence that was 4 flights up with no elevator.  And the most intriguing (dangerous?) part of the trip…we ate dinner next to the head of Anti-Mafia efforts for Italy and his security detail of 6.  They happened to walk into the same restaurant we did.  We made it out alive.

But most importantly, I wanted to focus on the cooking class we took. I ended up taking away some thoughts from our chef that inspired me.

There were 6 in our class plus the chef (making 7 total). We started the day visiting a local market in Florence and learning about our ingredients.  We spent 7 euros to feed 7 people.  That didn’t include the eggs and flour we used.  As we cloaked ourselves in aprons, the Chef said that his philosophy of cooking was to keep his ingredients simple.  Simple and fresh ingredients will make a meal just as good as complicated all-day masterpieces.  He didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.  He wanted to have an inspired meal, but wanted to be able to go out and enjoy life.  To do this, he did the “best with less”.

So how did that translate to our meal?

We made pasta: 2 ingredients. It’s really not that hard.

With half the pasta we made ravioli and filled it with ricotta.

The other half was made into noodles and we made a meat sauce with vegetables. 5 ingredients.

Our third dish was Tiramisu: 5 ingredients.

We also ate battered zucchini flowers and crostini with pesto.

But how was I inspired by this?

“Keep our ingredients simple.” In our work at the college we sometimes think that big, grand, and complex is better.  I learned that the simplest of ingredients (quality teaching; good service) made for the best meal we had in Italy.

“Enjoy life.” This translated into one of my core values…always be balanced. In work, with family, and in this great place we live.  Give your best in the kitchen (have an inspired meal), don’t be a slave to it (don’t get too complicated), bring wine, and help others enjoy the journey.

“The best with less.” By necessity, this is our community college world.  But because we have less, this does not mean we have to jeopardize quality.  We offer a quality experience and I think we serve one of the best meals.  Especially since we only have 7 Euros to spend.  This comes from having a lot of quality chefs at Cascadia.

Thank you to all who made this trip for Dede possible. And thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

Have a great weekend.

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