This nuanced perspective of the Mediterranean diet was reinforced by a class conversation with Frances Mayes, esteemed author of Under the Tuscan Sun and See You in the Piazza among other titles, who described the factors that continue to shape Italian culinary attitudes. Key to Mayes’ talk was the term “cucina povera,” or “poor cooking,” a concept that underscores Italian cuisine’s roots in savoring “waste-not” dishes like bruschetta and panzanella salad, which transform an ingredient like stale bread into a new dish.
Reflecting on the course, clinical nutrition master’s student Larlee Bjorkman commented that this notion of “cucina povera” inspired her to cook using parts of ingredients she might have disposed of previously. Other students noted a new desire to attain the mindful relationship with food the Mediterranean diet embodies by limiting distractions during mealtimes or shopping for produce more sustainably.
“This has been one of the most impactful courses on me and my family, as I have used knowledge gained about the Mediterranean diet daily,” Bjorkman said. “Lisa created a truly authentic experience that allowed us to be transported from our homes into the culture and life of Italy.”