Area fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders can deepen their understanding of other countries at hands-on “Around the World in 8 Days” culinary arts classes the first and third Wednesday of each month, February through May, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Escanaba Upper Elementary School (EUE).
Students will prepare and eat a meal from a different country each week, including a Japanese bento-box creation, Russian Solyanka soup, traditional Irish and Canadian (Newfoundland) cuisine, and more, taking home recipes, said Carla Meyer, instructor and Bonifas Arts Center special events coordinator.
Discussions of each country’s cuisine will help kids learn about each place’s resources, climate, and geography, how food choices are influenced by “what’s available,” said Meyer, encouraging students to think about the world outside the United States.
“When we open up our eyes to experiencing other cultures, even if we can’t get there, if we take a couple hours to focus our attention on another country,” this can widen children’s understanding, Meyer said. “It’s important for kids and adults to realize they are a small part of a much bigger world.”
Kids’ creativity in the kitchen will influence how they present and flavor what they make, so students also will explore the playful and “fun” side of cooking, Meyer said. Bento boxes, for instance, often include rice, and working with sticky rice, students can sculpt shapes, such as the body of a bird, decorating it with carrot, sesame seeds, and seaweed, and resting it on a nest of noodles, she said.
At each class, in addition to cooking and baking skills, students will learn about kitchen and food-preparation safety, table setup, and post-prep cleanup, Meyer said, as well as nutrition and the importance of sitting down with others for a family-style meal.
Preregistration, at the EUE or Bonifas, is strongly encouraged because space is limited, said Meyer. The full series is $25, or $5 per class.