Christmas is by far the most important holiday of the year in Italy with festivities that last from Dec. 8 through Jan. 6, according to College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Italian Instructor Simonetta Baldassari. And for that reason, sharing age-old Italian traditions are as much a part of the course as are the recipes and meals Baldassari imparts upon her students during her annual “Traditional Italian Christmas” cooking class.
The Liguria-born, adjunct faculty instructor joined 16 CSM students for a customary Italian gathering Dec. 6 at the Custom Kitchens by Design showroom in La Plata with one goal – to create an atmosphere where it felt as if family and friends were reuniting to feast on delicacies and relive customs from long ago.
On the menu at the recent class were traditional favorites such as cocktail dellaa casa, Sjabei (pasta fritta), Involtini d’asparagie e pancetta (asparagus and pancetta), Branzino al cartoccio (sea bass) and gnocci de patate (potato pasta). At the table were well-appointed place settings and decorations, all arranged with great detail. And in the air was a sense of familiarity, warmth and fun, shared CSM Assistant Director of Personal Enrichment Shaunda Holt.
“She has such a beautiful personality,” said Holt, of Baldassari. “She has a huge following because she is so informative and real. Students follow her from class to class.”
Baldassari has been teaching cooking classes and Italian language classes for CSM since 2013. For those interested in delving into the taste of, or language of, Italy, below are a list of classes currently scheduled for the winter and spring of 2019:
PEP-8780-157441 Simple Italian – Language and Culture. Wednesdays, March 6 – April 17, 6:30-9 p.m. at the La Plata Campus.
PEP-9000-157443 Intermediate Italian. Wednesdays, April 24 – May 29, 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. the La Plata Campus.
PEP-9140-157439 Couples Night Out – Italian Style. Thursday, Feb. 14, 6-9 p.m. at Custom Kitchens by Design, 6750 Crain Highway, La Plata.
AAA-7590-157440 Marti Gras in Italy. Thursday, Feb. 28, 6-9 p.m. at Custom Kitchens by Design, 6750 Crain Highway, La Plata.
AAA-8050-157442 Limoncello – Liquid Sunshine. Thursday, March 14, 6-9 p.m. at Custom Kitchens by Design, 6750 Crain Highway, La Plata..
PEP-8800-158738 Meet the Pasta. Thursday, March 28, 6-9 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church, 11610 Rubina Place, Waldorf.
PEP-8790-160129 Pizza School. Thursday, May 2, 6-9 p.m.at Peace Lutheran Church, 11610 Rubina Place, Waldorf.
PEP-9270-158740 Italian Wines and Appetizers. Thursday, May 16, 6-9 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church, 11610 Rubina Place, Waldorf.
Students can register for personal enrichment classes up until the day of the class, although earlier registration is encouraged because some classes have minimum registrations required to run. For information on non-credit, personal enrichment offerings at CSM, visit http://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/personal-enrichment/. Registrants must be 21 years of age or older to register for cooking classes as wine is typically served with the meal.