Frank Sinatra is singing “The Way You Look Tonight.” At least I think it’s Sinatra. The music has a decided Italian vibe, which makes sense since I’m here this evening to learn how to make an Italian veggie burger dinner. What makes this meal Italian? It could be the dried oregano or fresh parsley in the veggie burgers. Then again it could be the homemade basil buns, herb and rice stuffed tomatoes, or raspberry Italian soda. It could be the instructor—Lucia Oliverio—as her parents are Italian immigrants. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
For those who haven’t taken a class at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, I’ll set the scene. The school is upstairs in a light-filled space that could double as a set for a cooking show. In front of the kitchen island, with its large commercial stoves, there are rows of tables holding bottles of cold water, along with cubed cheese and crunchy breadsticks. Monitors above project images of the wooden cutting boards below, in preparation for the cooking demonstration to come. For $5 you can purchase a glass of wine. Sip it while you read through the recipes and the shopping list. Imagine how you’ll spend the $5 coupon after class (no, you can’t use it to purchase another glass of wine). There’s a complimentary glass offered with your meal, so pace yourself. You haven’t started cooking yet.