The exotic food of Sicily is no longer a secret, which is why so many people now head to the island’s best and friendliest cooking school to learn how to prepare a selection of authentic recipes. The Anna Tasca Lanza school, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, was founded in 1989 on a magnificent estate in central Sicily, about 90 minutes’ drive from Palermo.
Today, the school is run by Fabrizia Lanza, Anna’s daughter, and her fluent English, charming humor and vast knowledge of Sicilian produce, wines and cuisine make it a delight. Even if you don’t have time for one of the three- or five-day courses, the half-day program, which includes a cooking lesson and lunch with wines from the surrounding Tasca d’Almerita vineyards, makes a memorable excursion from Palermo. If you choose one of the longer courses, you stay in simple but comfortable lodgings on the estate, sharing meals with your fellow students. Among the recipes you’ll learn are chickpea fritters, a delicious hors d’oeuvre that is surprisingly easy to make; caponata, or eggplant stewed with celery and capers; pasta with Trapanese pesto (made with almonds, tomato and a reduced quantity of basil); and spezzatino di agnello, a succulent lamb stew seasoned with saffron, red wine and fresh mint.