Butcher and client

Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy

The Mercato Centrale, ranked 10th on USA Today’s Best Food Markets Around the World, is one of our favorites to visit on each trip to Florence. The market is always full of great food, and it is crowded with many locals and tourists. We were there on a Saturday morning in the rain so it was even more crowded than normal.

Here are some of my favorite photos of meat:

Here are some of my favorite photos of other foods:

Jackie and Mari making pasta

Italian cooking school

One of the activities that Jackie and I have wanted to partake in is signing up for cooking classes, especially for Italian cooking. We had our chance this week while we are here in Italy to take a cooking class through Le Baccanti, a company that has a wide variety of food and travel activities.

Our instructor was Anna, a native of Sicily, but who has spend most of her life in Tuscany. She was assisted by Mari, who was her translator, because Anna speaks no English. We were joined for lunch by Pepe, Anna’s husband, who restores furniture, so we had a great discussion about furniture building and restoration to go along with Anna’s baby clothes business she used to run.

The class was in Anna’s house in Florence, and Jackie and I were the only students, which was just wonderful. We made biscotti, antipasta, ravioli, tagliatelle, a chicken dish, and a wine reduction, learned about how simple and easy some of the dishes are to make, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The recipes have to be requested from the tour company, but I am certain that many of these dishes will be part of Jackie’s cooking repertoire soon.