Posts tagged ‘discussing food culture with teens’

February 18, 2014

From the Ground Up: Preparing for Spring and Summer Planting

by Melissa Harding

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As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

Despite a crazy snow storm the night before that made the roads almost impassable, the latest meeting of the Global Chefs was jam-packed with fun activities. Not only did they get in quite a bit of planting and cooking, but they also had a chance to talk with some very special guests – the Nigerian team! First thing Saturday morning, the Nigerian team called the Global Chefs to learn more about their work. They asked lots of great questions, especially about what we are planting and cooking. It is very hot where they are, so their team is planting maize, rice and yams. When our teens told them how cold it was here and that we were getting so much snow, the Nigerians were amazed! One of the Global Chefs grabbed a handful of snow to show them and they couldn’t believe it. Both teams were so excited to finally talk to each other and can’t wait to do it again!

After this wonderful conversation, the teens moved on to seed starting. They started a total of nine trays of seeds for future planting. Half of those trays were filled with cold weather crops, like lettuce and broccoli, to be placed in Phipps Edible Garden in April. The other half of the trays were filled with warm weather crops, like tomatoes and peppers, and will be used by the 2014 Phipps summer interns to start their garden this June. Through this process, the teens learned about planting seeds, germination, and the best way to care for seedlings.

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Finally, the group made a delicious meal using some of their own recipes from the past year. Joined by Kelsey Weisgerber, Director or Food Services for the Environmental Charter School, and Emily Schmiddlap of Just Harvest, the Global Chefs made yet another feast fit for a king! They cooked savory chicken and tofu kabobs, complete with peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, and a yummy peanut satay. They also made rice and goti, an Indian bread recipe. Finally, for dessert they cooked a delicious Indian pudding, sheer kurma.

Next month, the Global Chefs will be meeting at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus for a full-day retreat. The teens will get to work on their cookbook mock-ups and learn more about urban gardening on the 388-acre campus farm.

To see more photos from the day, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.

January 7, 2014

From the Ground Up: Holiday Feasting!

by Melissa Harding

On the stove

As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

For the last meeting of the year, the Global Chefs decided to create a holiday feast. Nancy Hanst, Alyce Amery-Spenser and Cathy Brinjack from Slow Food Pittsburgh were on hand to help them create a meal fit for a king. The menu included roasted turkey breast on the bone, roasted sweet potatoes, Japanese yams roasted with citrus juices, and “jalof” rice, a Nigerian dish of pureed vegetables and rice. All of these recipes were brought in by students and chosen by the group as those that best represented their various cultural holiday celebrations. Students practiced their knife skills, as well as their skills in sautéing vegetables, as they cooked their meal.

While some students were cooking, others spent time learning more about food cultures. More specifically, they talked about the role of food in family, community and regional (Pittsburgh) culture. They also talked about food culture in the United States and how it compares to that of their Nigerian counterparts. Finally, they talked about what a healthy diet is comprised of, as well as situations that could prevent people being able to eat a healthy diet.

Additionally, students shared the recipes that they brought for December’s assignment, which was to interview an elder and bring in one of their favorite recipes. With students coming from as diverse of backgrounds as Haiti, Jamaica, Cameroon, Togo and Nigeria, the recipes they brought reflected their many culture.  Examples include akara, a black-eyed pea dish from Nigeria; beignets, or “puff-puffs”, which is one grandmother’s favorite treat; candied yams; stuffed shells; potato salad; veilli, a dish made with cassava from Togo; and friend plantains. January’s assignment is to find a vegetable-based recipe to share.

Finally, students spent time reflecting in their journals. They were asked to choose three strong, positive food memories and write about them, summing up their thoughts in a powerful 6-word statement to share. Most students talked about warmth, family and the importance of their cultures in their statement.

To see more images from the workshop, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger and some of the students.

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