A Free Course from MIT Teaches You How to Speak Italian & Cook Italian Food All at Once

At MIT, Dr. Paola Rebusco usually teaches physics to freshmen. But, on behalf of the MIT Experimental Study Group, Rebusco has devised an appealing course -- Speak Italian with Your Mouth Full -- where she combines teaching two things many people love: learning to speak Italian and cooking Italian food. The course summary reads:

The participants in this seminar will dive into learning basic conversational Italian, Italian culture, and the Mediterranean diet. Each class is based on the preparation of a delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture. A good diet is not based on recipes only, it is also rooted in healthy habits and in culture. At the end of the seminar the participants will be able to cook some healthy and tasty recipes and to understand and speak basic Italian.

As Rebusco explains in a short video, this course has the advantage of making the language lessons a little less abstract. It gives students a chance to apply what they've learned (new vocabulary words, pronunciations, etc.) in a fun, practical context.




Above, we start you off with the first language lesson in the seminar. It begins where all basic courses start -- with how to say your name. Below, you can watch the class learn to cook fresh pasta. Along the way, the course also teaches students how to make espressorisottohomemade pizzabruschetta, and biscotti. Lectures for the course can be found on the MIT web site, YouTube and iTunesSpeak Italian with Your Mouth Full also appears in our collection of Free Foreign Language Lessons and 1200 Free Courses Online. Buon Appetito!

Ingredients & Cooking Instruction:

Food Preparation

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site way back in 2012.

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What It Would Look Like If Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino & Other Directors Filmed Cooking Videos

I usually chafe when director Wes Anderson is labelled “twee,” but as an enthusiastic, sticky-fingered gobbler of bark and ash encrusted campfire s’mores, I did enjoy a rather rowdy laugh at his expense while watching the above video.

Each entry in filmmaker David Ma’s #FoodFilms series starts with a hypothesis that pairs a simple, familiar dish with a director whose visual style is well established.

What if Wes Anderson made S’mores? 

Ma’s early marination in the realms of food styling and advertising is a recipe for success here.




Anderson’s beloved God shot has become a staple of online cooking videos, but Ma’s attention to subtler details would pass muster with a Cordon Bleu chef.

The formally engraved card! The ribbon motif! The costumes!

The look is more Grand Budapest Hotel than the camp-themed Moonrise Kingdom, but no matter. That more obvious pairing started tasting a tad over-chewed around the time of the Moonrise Kingdom-inspired wedding photo shoot.

Ma’s homage to Quentin Tarantino is a butch and bloody take on spaghetti and meatballs.

To paraphrase Jean-Luc Godard, "It's not blood. It’s red sauce.

The soundtrack suggests that Ma’s ear is just as keen as his eye.

45 seconds in, there's a Part 2, as an extra treat for QT fans.

Big budget action king Michael Bay and a Gravity-centric Alfonso Cuarón round out #FoodFilms’ four-course tasting menu.

However satisfied viewers may feel with these hijinks, their appetite for the project is far from satiated. Sequel requests are piling up:

What if Kubrick made Toast?

What if Tim Burton made a grilled cheese sandwich?

What if Woody Allen made pizza?

What if Steven Spielberg made cupcakes?

What if Kurosawa made scrambled eggs?

What if Guy Ritchie did a Full English Fry-Up?

Gives me a hankering to see what Sofia Coppola would do with my grandmother’s favorite layered Jell-o salad.

While we’re waiting for Ma to serve up his next dish we can tide ourselves over with some of his other highly stylized recipe videos, like the Incredible Hulk’s Smashed Potatoes.

Readers, what director-dish pairing would you order up? Let us know in the comments.

via W Magazine

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

How to Make the Oldest Recipe in the World: A Recipe for Nettle Pudding Dating Back 6,000 BC

Attention culinary historians, survivalists, wildcrafters, and gonzo eaters!

Nettle pudding, Britain’s—and quite possibly the world’s—oldest recipe, looks like a good bet in the event of a zombie invasion, or some other catastrophe.

The ingredients—sorrel, watercress, dandelions, nettles—are the sort of thing you can find in a ditch or public park.

If you’re worried about pulling an Into the Wild, book a prophylactic tour with naturalist Wildman Steve Brill.




Should barley flour prove in short supply, don’t worry about it! Grind some acorns, like that kid in My Side of the Mountain. 

You think early man sweated substitutions?

No way! Improvisation was the name of the game.

Rigid adherence to published ingredients will have no place in the zombie invasion! As Cardiff Metropolitan University’s home economist Dr. Ruth Fairchild told The Daily Mail:

You have to think how much more is wasted now than then.

Food waste today is huge. A third of the food in our fridges is thrown away every week without being eaten.

But they wouldn't have wasted anything, even hooves would have been used for something.

They had to eat what was grown within a few miles, because it would have taken so long to collect everything, and even collecting water would have been a bit of a trial.

Yet today, so many people don't want to cook because they think of it as a chore.

Stop thinking of nettle pudding as a chore! Start practicing for the zombie invasion with Antiquity Now’s step-by-step recipe and let us know how it tastes.

NETTLE PUDDING (an 8000 year old recipe!)

Ingredients

1 bunch of sorrel

1 bunch of watercress

1 bunch of dandelion leaves

2 bunches of young nettle leaves

Some chives

1 cup of barley flour

1 teaspoon of salt

 

Instructions

Chop the herbs finely and mix in the barley flour and salt.

Add enough water to bind it together and place in the center of a linen or muslin cloth.

Tie the cloth securely and add to a pot of simmering venison or wild boar (a pork joint will do just as well). Make sure the string is long enough to pull the pudding from the pot.

Cook the pudding until the meat is done (at least two hours).

Leave the pudding to cool slightly, remove the muslin, then cut the pudding into thick slices with a knife.

Serve the pudding with chunks of barley bread.

(Be mindful that fire may attract zombies. Keep a shovel beside you at all times. Good luck!)

You can read more about the discovery of Nettle Pudding at the BBC and The Telegraph.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch a 4000-Year Old Babylonian Recipe for Stew, Found on a Cuneiform Tablet, Get Cooked by Researchers from Yale & Harvard

Walk like an Egyptian, but eat like an ancient Babylonian.

While cookbooks containing Mesopotamian fare do exist, to be really authentic, take your recipes from a clay tablet, densely inscribed in cuneiform.

Sadly, there are only four of them, and they reside in a display case at Yale. (Understandable given that they’re over 4000 years old.)

When Agnete Lassen, associate curator of Yale’s Babylonian Collection, and colleague Chelsea Alene Graham, a digital imaging specialist, were invited to participate in a culinary event hosted by New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, they wisely chose to travel with a 3D-printed facsimile of one of the precious tablets.




T’would have been a shame to knock the original off the counter while reaching for a bunch of leeks.

While other presenters prepared such delicacies as Fish Sauces at the Roman Table, Buddhist vegetarian dishes from the Song Dynasty, and a post-modern squid-ink spin on Medieval Blancmange, the Yale team joined chef Nawal Nasrallah and a crew from Harvard to recreate three one-pot dishes detailed on one of the ancient artifacts.

Judging by the above video, the clear winner was Tuh’i, a beet and lamb stew which Lassen describes as a “proto-borscht.”

The vegetarian Unwinding Stew’s name proved unnecessarily vexing, while the milk-based Broth of Lamb was unappetizing to the eye (as well as the palate, according to Graham). Perhaps they should have substituted animal blood—another favorite Babylonian thickener.

As one of Lassen’s predecessors, Professor William W. Hallo, told The New York Times in 1988, it’s unlikely the average Mesopotamian would have had the opportunity to tuck into any of these dishes. The vast quantities of speciality ingredients and the elaborate instructions suggest a festive meal for the elite.

In addition to the dishes served at NYU’s Appetite for the Past conference, the tablets include recipes for stag, gazelle, kid, mutton, squab, and a bird that’s referred to as “tarru."

Next time, perhaps.

And not to quibble with the Bulldogs, but the BBC reports that researchers from the University of Wales Institute are claiming a pudding made from nettles, ground barley, and water is actually the world’s oldest recipe, clocking in at 6000 BC. (Serve it with roast hedgehog and fish gut sauce…)

While the Yale team has yet to share its recipes in a language other than cuneiform, The Silk Road Gourmet has a good guide to various Mesopotamian spices and staples.

via Kottke/Yale

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Thursday June 28 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Life Lessons from Anthony Bourdain: How He Developed His Iron Professionalism, Achieved Creative Freedom & Learned from Failure

Anthony Bourdain was not a particularly good chef. That statement comes not as a cheap shot at the recently departed, but a quote from the departed himself. Bourdain freely admitted it over a couple of Tiger beers with a Fast Company interviewer last year. "I was very deservedly fired on a number of occasions," he adds for good measure, referencing his decades of dirty work and drug abuse before he rose to prominence in the worlds of food- and travel-centric books and television. But in more than one way, those decades prepared him to ride the kind of success he would eventually achieve into a body of work that could have arisen from no other life or personality.

"Most of the people I've met who've been in the television industry for a long time, their greatest fear is that they will not be in the television industry next year," Bourdain says. "That they'll say something or do something or make a decision that will be so unpopular that they'll lose their gig and won't end up back on television again. I don't have that fear." He knew, surely better than anyone who has publicly remarked on it, that he may not have shown the genius in the kitchen to attain star-chef status. But he also knew he had something ultimately more important: the skills to turn out meal after flawless meal, day in and day out. "If I have to," he says, "I'm pretty sure I can keep up on an omelet station."




Many remembrances of Bourdain have highlighted his iron professionalism. "He is controlled to the point of neurosis: clean, organized, disciplined, courteous, systematic," wrote the New Yorker's Patrick Radden Keefe in a profile published last year. "He is Apollo in drag as Dionysus.” Bourdain credited that to his lean years in the kitchen: "Everything important I ever learned, I learned as dishwasher and as a cook: you show up on time, you stay organized, you clean up after yourself, you think about the people you work with, you respect the people you work with. You do the best you can." This went for matters personal as well as professional: "If I say to you I'm going to meet you tomorrow at twelve minutes after five to see John Wick 7, I will be there at 5:02."

He would also, he adds, be "hanging out across the street, discreetly observing to see what time you show up. And I'll be making some very important decisions based on your arrival time." Bourdain's exacting standards, for himself and others, allowed him to achieve an unusual degree of freedom for a major media personality. "I detest competent, workmanlike storytelling," he says of his and his collaborators' penchant for creative risk. "A powerful reaction, in one way or the other, is infinitely preferable to me than pleasing everybody." Yet despite taking books and television shows ostensibly about food in new and unpredictable aesthetic and intellectual directions, in the kitchen he remained a traditionalist to the end. "You put chicken in a carbonara? You lost me. It's an unforgivable sin against God."

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Anthony Bourdain’s Free Show, Raw Craft Where He Visits Craftsmen Making Guitars, Tattoos, Motorcycles & More (RIP)

Why has food become such an object of interest in recent years? One possible explanation is that it represents one of the last pursuits still essentially untouchable by digital culture: for all you can write about and photograph food for the internet, you can't actually experience it there. Food, in other words, means physicality, dexterity, sensibility, and hand-craftsmanship in a concrete, visceral way that, in the 21st, century, has come to seem increasingly scarce. But another, shorter explanation sums the phenomenon up, just as plausibly, in two words: Anthony Bourdain.

Ever since he first entered the public eye at the end of the 1990s, late chef-writer-traveler-television host taught a reading, and later viewing public to appreciate not just food but all that goes into food: the ingredients, sure, the intense training and labor, of course, but most of all the many and varied cultural factors that converge on a meal. Bourdain found robust cultures everywhere, those that developed cart-filled streets of cities across the world to the kitchens of the most unassuming-looking restaurants and everywhere in between. He deeply respected not just those dedicated to the making and serving of food, but those dedicated to crafts of all kinds.




Bourdain's natural kinship with all craftsmen and craftswomen made him a natural choice to carry Raw Craft, a web series sponsored by the Balvenie, a popular-premium brand of Scotch whisky. In its fourteen episodes (each of which finds a way to feature a bottle of the Balvenie), Bourdain goes characteristically far and wide to visit the studios and workshops of real people making real suits, shoessaxophones, drums, guitarshandprinted books, furniture, motorcycles, and "traditionally feminine objects." That last may break somewhat from Bourdain's swaggering, masculine-if-not-macho image, but as the series' host he displays a good deal of enthusiasm for the subject of each episode, including the trip to the sponsor's own distillery in Dufftown, Scotland.

Naturally, Bourdain can engage on a whole other level in the episodes about food and food-related objects, such as pastries and hot chocolatekitchen knives, and, in the video at the top of the post, cast-iron skillets. Ever the participatory observer, he finishes that last by preparing steak au poivre with one of the workshop's own skillets on the flame of its own skillet-forging furnace. He takes it a step further, or several, in the episode with Japanese tattoo artist Takashi where, despite "running out of room" on his own much-tattooed skin, he commissions one more: a magnificent blue chrysanthemum on his shoulder, drawn and inked with only the most time-honored tools and techniques.

We even, during one of Bourdain's ink-receiving sessions with Takashi, glimpse a true craftsman-to-craftsman conversational exchange. Bourdain asks Takashi about something he's seen all of the many times he's been on the tattooing table: a junior artist will approach to watch and learn from the way a senior one works. Takashi, who had to go through a minor ordeal just to convince his own master to take him on as an apprentice, confirms both the universality and the importance of the practice: "If you stop learning, you are pretty much done, you know?" Bourdain, who could only have agreed with the sentiment, lived it to the very end. "I'd like it to last as long as I do," he says of his Takashi tattoo — "Which ain't that long," he adds, "but long enough, I hope." But surely no amount of time could ever satisfy a culinary, cultural, and intellectual appetite as prodigious as his.

You can watch the complete series of Raw Craft videos here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Short Fascinating Film Shows How Japanese Soy Sauce Has Been Made for the Past 750 years

A few years back, we visited Hōshi, a hotel located in Komatsu, Japan, which holds the distinction of being the 2nd oldest hotel in the world, and "the oldest still running family business in the world." Built in 718 AD, Hōshi has been operated by the same family for 46 consecutive generations.

It's hard to imagine. But it's true. Once established, Hōshi would have to wait another 500 years before soy sauce came to Japan and could be served to its guests. According to the National Geographic video above, a buddhist monk traveled from China to Yuasa, Japan in the 13th century. And there he began producing soy sauce, fermenting soy beans, wheat, salt and water. That tradition continues to this day. This fascinating short film by Mile Nagaoka gives you a good glimpse into this timeless process.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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