Food is a lens for culture.
One of the many things I love about teaching in a project-based, progressive school, is knowing that we have the freedom to approach learning outcomes in a way that is hands-on and meaningful to the children. Cooking is really a perfect way, I've found, to explore culture and honor diversity. We raise students' awareness of the relationship between our identity and the food we eat, the way we celebrate (rituals), and how humans are alike and different, no matter where we live.
Sometimes the children get to explore food and culture through an "EB" (or later on, starting in 3rd grade, an "elective"), and at other times as we celebrate different holidays, civilizations, or world-wide events in the classroom. This week, I'm doing two cooking projects - a continuation of the Pastabilities EB, and making Irish Soda Bread as a way to extend learning about St. Patrick's Day. Both foods - noodles and bread - are found all over the world, and there are so many types of each.
Today in the Pasta EB, I told my little group that we would be doing a variation of an egg noodle, but that we would be using the pasta after it dries, on Wednesday. I wanted it to be a surprise on what the final product would be - the only clue I gave was that the dish would be found in the book, Everybody Brings Noodles:
This is one of a series of books by Norah Dooley - others include Everybody Bakes Bread, and Everybody Cooks Rice. Some of the children have already surmised that we would be making a recipe called Mrs. Max's Kugel. Sneaky devils ... they figured out that wide-cut egg noodles would be just the thing to add to the other yummy ingredients.
Here are the beauties, made with a lot of love and elbow grease. They will be nice and dry by Wednesday.
Also this week, with my homeroom children, we will be learning about the traditions and myths surrounding St. Patrick's Day. You may have noticed some tricky challenge words on the spelling lists - like leprechaun. After reading a story or two, we will roll up our sleeves to attempt Irish Soda Bread. We will make it in jumbo muffin tins, so each child will have a small "loaf" to take home. Sharing the bounty is always a lovely way to share tradition and love.