In the World Cooking Elective, middle school students embark on a culinary and cultural adventure that involves all of their senses as they learn to create delicious food from around the world. Focused on the humble pancake, students develop their knife and cooking skills while making and eating pancakes from different cultures. An open mindset is encouraged as we use different ingredients and cooking techniques to prepare sweet and savory pancakes that includes French crepes, Japanese okonomiyaki and takoyaki, German dutch babies, Indonesian serabi, Danish aebleskiver, and Korean pajeon. Students learn some of the stories and folklore beyond the invention of the different types of pancakes and are asked to take what they learn home to cook a pancake of their choosing from anywhere in the world for their family and friends. Choosing a pancake from their cultural heritage or from a culture they want to learn about is encouraged. The home cooking assignment is designed to showcase the students skills and bring families together at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table (pancakes are not just for breakfast!!) and includes students receiving responses to their cooking.
Many of the students chose to make a pancake from their cultural heritage. Grade 7 student Melina chose to make Finnish pannukakku bringing back memories of her great grandmother, saying, “I felt that I was at my great grandmother’s house chomping down on it with her.” Melina’s mother, Anu, praised her daughter saying “She found a new recipe, and this was perfect. It was exactly like my grandmothers. I wasn’t able to replicate hers from the few recipes we tried before, but she did it…The pancake reminds me of my grandmother and childhood. Exactly like she would make it. Fluffy, almost pudding-like.” I have heard that this pancake recipe is once again a family favorite.
Melina with her Finnish pannukakku
Another Grade 7 student, Mahveen chose to make chitta pitha (chita roti). Mahveen described her Mother’s reaction to her pancakes as “a bunch of jumbled words in Bengali loosely interpreted to be ‘Wow, this is really good. You did a great job! Your ancestors would be proud to see you keeping their traditions alive!’”
Riley, another Grade 7 student chose to make Australian pikelets which, according to his Dad were “a delight for the senses. They reminded me of my childhood. Buttery and good.” Other students made crepes (Jaya, Grade 6), Brazilian pancakes (Sky, Grade 7) and Dutch Baby pancakes (Marcella, Grade 7) to the delight of their families.
Riley making Australian pikelets
Research shows that sharing meals with others offers numerous benefits, including improved mental and physical health, stronger relationships, better eating habits, cultural enrichment, and increased overall happiness. In world cooking, we see that cooking and sharing meals together kindles warmth and friendship—a cherished tradition we hope extends to everyone during the holiday season and beyond.
—Dr. R., Director of Environmental Sustainability and Gardening