With more than 30 million tourists per year (at least when there isn’t a pandemic), Venice is most definitely a tourist city. This means that experiencing it like a local (and not like a tourist) might require some level of creativity. One way of upgrading your Venetian experience is by dining, or rather cooking, like a local.
Here to help you out is Italian chef and true Venetian, Enrica Rocca. Rocca’s food philosophy is fairly straightforward: when in Venice, eat like a Venetian. “I never eat in Italian restaurants outside of Italy as I enjoy discovering the local specialties,” she remarked once in an interview with Suitcase Magazine. “I also know how difficult it is to replicate any cuisine outside of its original country.”
Rocca puts her money where her mouth is. Based in Venice, she teaches the art of Italian, and more specifically Venetian, cooking to both locals and tourists. Her classes include some legwork, beginning with shopping trips to Venice’s Rialto fish and produce market, where students are invited to touch, smell, taste, and finally purchase local produce.
Buying local, as it turns out, is fundamental according to Rocca. “A cuisine is built around the local ingredients so exporting a culinary culture is really difficult,” says the Italian chef. “You can’t access the same ingredients, not everything can be exported and compromises are not always successful.” According to Rocca, most of her dishes comprise just two or three ingredients, chosen well and cooked simply.
Her cookery classes take place in Venice’s Dorsoduro district, just across the Grand Canal from San Marco, where students are invited to cook alongside the master in her very own kitchen. But worry not because Rocca also teaches online courses, for those of us who hope to achieve a better understanding of what it takes to make the perfect Italian dish.