Tuesday, January 2, 2018

BUGS Cooking Students Learn about Traditional Foods

Connecting Food, Culture, & History in the BUGS Kitchen

One of the important things that we do at BUGS is try to give students beyond the surface hands on experiences that help them see the bigger picture. In the BUGS kitchen, we get to try new recipes as well as healthy new takes on some of our favorite foods - we are also a 100% vegetarian kitchen!

 Recently, students made the African dish - Akara. Akara is a black eyed pea fritter cake that is traditionally deep fried in Palm Oil (We used Vegetable Oil as a substitute). This bean cake has strong links to West African countries such as Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Mali where it is a popular street and breakfast food. The food is also eaten in Brazil, where it's called Acaraje and used as an ancestral food offering in Candomble. This spiritual tradition is an African Faith founded in Brazil by captive Africans around the 16th century.  The black eyed pea patty has in recent years sparked a deeper interest in Afro Brazilians about their cultural and historical connections to West Africa.

The recipe uses peeled black eyes peas, blended with onions, spices (we used sea salt, pepper, some old bay and added a few cloves of garlic) which is then mixed up in a bowl for about 5 minutes, then deep fried, resulting in a light bean cake with a fluffy interior:

Akara (Source: Google)

Students enjoying Akara in BUGS kitchen

Our Lesson: How Do different Cultures Honor those that have passed on?

In our journey to explore the flavors of Akara, I asked this question to my students. Some of the answers ranged from mention of the celebration of The Day of the Dead in Mexico, lighting candles, gifting flowers and making a "toast". Participation was very high, as many students had stories to share :

Students Sasha & Ryan smile for the camera

Excitement as the Akara is Cooking pictured: Reign Morrison

Before we dug in to our tasty bean cakes, we did a toast to our ancestors and to each other  - the Akara was a huge hit with the students!

Arts Integration with "culinary arts"

Students engaged in a creative process to achieve edible and inedible artwork out of pumpkin ginger cookies we had previously made in our kitchen classroom. Our food & nutrition lessons are often planned around sensory activities that engage students in various modes and textures as a way to create products, as a meditative process, and as a tool for health & nutrition education.

Take a Look at Some of the Fun:

Khamal poses with his old man cookie art :)

Students James and Brian enjoying their canvasses

Student Artwork

Dough Sensory Activity 
Check back for more updates on what we're up to, our motto is "Learning by Doing" and we look forward to continuing to do just that! :)

BUGS Cooking Educator
January 2018

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