Anne's Blog

Woodstove Missing in Silver Spring, Maryland (Mar. 23, 2013 – evening class)

Date: April 5, 2013 - categories: , - 3 Comments

Wow, what a cooking team!

Co-host Neil summed up our Silver Spring, Maryland class with a reminiscence: “I can close my eyes and am transported to your farmhouse, 1975 circa.” Yes, the flavors are those, Neil – of Umbrian rural cuisine – but this time we cooked in a kitchen with running hot water, heat and on a gas stove, not on the woodstove! Remember those dinners in our Assisi farmhouse, cooked on the woodstove (after the pigs, sheep, fowl, rabbits were all settled down for the night in the stalls below)? We sat near the woodstove or right in front of the huge fireplace – the only heat source besides the woodstove. On colder nights, we’d sit on the benches built into the fireplace, the dented old copper cauldron hanging on a chain over the fireplace coals, heating the water to wash the dishes.

Cooking at the lovely home of hosts Phil and Susan – with co-hosts (and old friends) Neil and wife Nancy – brought back so many memories of our years on the land in Umbria, the two of them frequent week-end guests at our farmhouse (a bucolic break for Neil from medical school in nearby Perugia). But this memorable Silver Spring cooking evening was more than just a savory culinary link to our Umbrian rural past: as they prepared our feast together, the friends of hosts Susan and Phil, Nancy and Neil connected while cooking and feasting. And I too renewed old ties: Susan and Phil had hosted me years ago for another unforgettable event. Mille grazie to you all for the wondrous “culinary encore”. And Nancy, who could have imagined that our friendship at UC-Berkeley of over forty years ago would see us cooking Umbrian food together near Washington, D.C?

Thanks to all for your enthusiastic participation – and your comments:

Annie, you outdid yourself. You magically transformed simple ingredients into an exceptional experience. Thank you for sharing your heart and experience…” Neil

I feel like I know you! This was absolutely fantastic!” Connie

“…wonderful to see you again. The food was truly fantastic!” John and Ellen

“…a real pleasure to meet you and eat the delicious food you helped us prepare. Your energy is infectious!” Jim

I usually eat vegetarian and was pleasantly surprised, finding that the majority of the meal was meatless – enjoyed everything and hope we can do it again!” Jack


  • mary says:

    Anne….just like Neil…..when I close my eyes I see our goup, my dear, sweet Mom &I just fascinated & captivated by you & your enthusiam for Assisi, the city back in time. Love you & your guiding, learning tours!!.

  • Neil says:

    Thanks for invoking wonderful memories of recent and much older feasts and friends. What is most amazing to me is how you take the simplest ingrediants and create something evocative and totally unexpected. Umbria comes in through all the senses. The taste and smell are taken for granted but the evening had a tactile and sensory quality that involved all the senses- maybe it’s the cutting, preparing and working with fresh foods that provides the ringside seat to the transformation of ingrediants. A magical evening and experience and can’t wait for next year….

  • Mamma mia..what wondrous comments from you did I miss these notes?
    Love to you,

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)