Saturday, April 25, 2015

Feast Day

My daughter's classes this semester remind me of what a vibrant time of exploration the college years can be. They include:

Thinking Black Intellectuals, which examines the evolution and responsibility of intellectuals in society, telescoping out from the development of Black intellectuals in global history to the socio-political and philosophical origins of modern intellectual traditions.

Advanced Supply Chain Management, which I think (but I'm not sure) is about managing the ordering and operating of chain restaurants, apparently making my girl want to put her head down on the desk and go to sleep.

Ethics of Eating, which looks at our food supply sources and processes, nearly turning my daughter into a vegan and certainly convincing her to avoid processed foods altogether and to mostly buy organic or free range, with the result she's lost 8 pounds this term without even thinking about it.

Intergroup Dialogue Discussion, in which the class breaks into smaller groups to tackle "ripped from the headlines" social justice issues that include race, gender, disability, socioeconomics, and sexuality from the perspective of individuals who bring diverse experiences and backgrounds to the discussion. The idea is to make each person's truth real and to open eyes to personal prejudices and unconscious stereotypes. My daughter, for example, discovered she had been holding a stereotype about entitled White males, when a White male classmate from a privileged background defied her expectation and revealed himself to be a thoughtful individual willing to examine his own prejudices and the realities of walking through the world in other shoes.

But perhaps my girl's favorite course this semester is Seminar in Culture and Cuisine, which looks at the cultures and cuisines of the world, and invites each student to choose a culture for a final project and do a paper and presentation on the development of the cuisine. They then have to research and create a menu of food from that culture and lead the class in preparing that menu during a 4-hour lab in the school's industrial kitchens each Friday. There are several students in the class who are in the school's joint program with the Culinary Institute of America, so whoever is leading the lab that week has major expertise on hand. At the end of the cooking, they all sit down and eat the meal together and then divvy up the leftovers to take home. My girl said to me: "Mom, can you believe this is a class?!" It sure beats chemistry lab! In any case, my daughter chose the cuisine of Jamaica (surprise, surprise) and yesterday was her day to play head chef, directing the 15 or so students in her class on the preparation of her menu.

All semester our daughter has been peppering me with questions about the food I ate growing up in Jamaica, and asking her dad about his recipes since he does the cooking in our house. While we were in Jamaica for her grandmother's funeral last month, she and her dad and one of my cousins who is a fabulous cook and passionate foodie, went shopping for local cookbooks. They made sure one of the titles my girl bought was the famous Enid Donaldson cookbook The Real Taste of Jamaica, which includes my mom's Eastern Caribbean inspired recipe for Johnny cakes. (My mom sent me to cooking lessons with Enid Donaldson when I was growing up; she really did try with me!) The menu our girl finally settled on:

Ackee and saltfish
Festival (a version of Johnny cakes)
Escovitched fish
Sweet plantains
Ox tail stew
Beef patties from scratch (very tricky crust!)

There were some other sides and sauces and things that I'm not so clear on. My girl messaged me as she was doing the lab, texts like, "Is the vinegar for Escovitch fish served hot or cold?" and "Didn't even realize till now that the smell of salt fish reminds me of home." When it was all over, she sent me these photos from the feast that was. The last photo is of all the students dining together in their chef whites, which I think is pretty awesome.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fabulous line-up. I would be sad to leave those classes.
    I want to hear more about the Thinking Black Intellectuals class!!

    My semester is winding down, too. I will miss my Art History and Cultural Resource Management courses, but not the two gen-eds (my last ones!!).

    Your childhood food sounds like a dream. It reminds me of what my dad told us about food growing up in Puerto Rico, so fresh, rich, and savory.

    xoxoxo

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    1. Chrissy, I'm so happy to see you here! Hope your family is thriving and glad to hear you're enjoying your classes! Much love.

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  2. Wow! That sure as hell DOES beat chemistry class.
    What an amazing course load she has!
    Now I'm hungry.

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    1. Ms. Moon, come join me for some of that ackee and saltfish and escovitch fish!

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  3. My mouth is watering, I am green with envy! That food looks divine. How proud you must be.

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    1. Vesuvius, she does make me proud, this girl. She's so good.

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  4. missed this post earlier…oh, how fabulous! you know i love food and cooking…i sooo wish i could have tasted every one of these dishes pictured/mentioned. what a remarkable young woman you have brought into the world!

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    1. susan, i am so curious to see where she takes all this!

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  5. Wow, that food looks incredible! And how cool to have a whole team of student chefs working at her disposal! A fabulous experience.

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    1. Steve, I never had any experiences remotely like this in college. Of course, if it involved cooking I would have given that class a wide berth! to each her own i suppose.

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  6. I read this awhile back, and couldn't comment at the time (on my phone) but I wanted to tell you what an amazing college experience your girl is having! This is fabulous! No wonder she's turning into such a great young woman.

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    1. SJ, i do think my girl is making the most of these years. hard to believe a year from now she will be done! it's going by so fast! How have you been, friend?

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