Growing up in a family where chores, school, and work blended together to distinctly differentiate the lines between responsibility and fun, cooking and meal prep wasn’t something that I looked at as relaxing. If you were to tell me years later I would actually enjoy everything that goes into preparing, cooking, and serving a good meal, I probably would have stared you down in complete disbelief.
It wasn’t until I took my first Italian culinary vacation that I understood the beauty, tranquility, and sheer joy that cooking brings to the soul, and to my own heart. It was no longer viewed as a chore or as a means to fill my hunger pains. If you are someone who hates to cook, loathes going to the grocery store, dreads trying to figure out what to serve and how to serve it, then I can understand why you might think that a culinary vacation is not your cup of tea. When I mention my line of work to strangers and friends, I sometimes get a similar reaction: “why would I want to vacation thousands of miles away to stand in a kitchen all day?”
The truth is so far from that notion that I could write about it for days — but I will try and keep it short! While time in the kitchen is a part of any cooking adventure, there is much more involved, taking the experience to a whole new level and offering a creative, relaxing, and unforgettable vacation. Because certain places such as Tuscany and Paris offer such a vivid and unique way of looking at food, it’s to these unique destinations I strive to take my guests during my food travel tours. It is why during my culinary trips we take time both in and out of the kitchen, to get a true sense of customs that are so different from ours.
The only way we can truly engage in this local culture is in fact, to get out of the kitchen and experience the area. We spend time mingling with locals, engaging in local culture, drinking their wine, eating their food, marveling at the beauty, scents, and real pleasures that these unique retreats bring to the table.
Spending a day browsing through cheese shops, and through popular open-air markets to choose our vegetables, breads and spices, will make you realize how easy it is to forget that what you are doing is getting ready to prepare a meal like no other. You get lost in the experience. And it is hard not to. When we stay in stunning villas overlooking some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, and we see the owners fetching eggs from their chickens coops so they can make breakfast for us, and then spend an afternoon with them cutting up lemons from their orchard and listening to how real limoncello is made, the words “chore”, and “work” never enter the picture. I love the transformation my guests go through during this wonderful experience.
My latest Italian culinary vacation was no different. I just returned this week from visiting Mamma Agata on the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. My guests walked away from this culinary trip forever changed. One of my guests, who admitted to me that cooking was not something she always enjoyed, told me, “This is truly heaven on earth. I never thought that picking out produce and getting my hands dirty in the kitchen could result in flavors, and an experience, that bursts both in my mouth and in my heart. This experience will stay with me forever and ever.”
Each of my culinary trips to Tuscany, Paris, the Amalfi Coast, and beyond, offer an even mix of culture, cooking, sightseeing, and of course, relaxation. Cooking becomes fun and spoils you into believing you can do it back home—and many of my guests do. Well-planned food travel tours can offer a life changing experience that will leave you yearning for more.
My upcoming Italian culinary vacation to Tuscany in October of 2012 is truly a delectable destination. I have some outstanding Tuscan cooking classes for guests to indulge in and can’t wait to share the adventure with new friends. To experience this amazing area for yourself, contact me for more information or read more about me and my love for gourmet travel. It’s an adventure of a lifetime and one that certainly will ignite the inner chef that resides within you.
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, divorced, widowed and solo travelers seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India.