Cultural cooking | UDaily

In the Willard Hall Education Building, there is a creative space that most members of the University of Delaware community might not know about unless they’re affiliated with the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition.

Room 204 in the Hall Education Building is a food lab, where students can test recipes and hone their cooking skills. During Winter Session, some students got to experience the food lab when Mediterranean cooking was featured as a component of the “Study at Home” series.

Sophomore Honors student Rashiqah Syed and her friends took part in the cooking class, and they thought it was a great way to expose students to new foods and also learn a life skill. So Syed brought her idea to the Honors Program in early February.

“I had no idea such a space existed on our campus,” said Sarah Georger, a program coordinator with the Honors Program. She made an appointment to speak with Kristin Wiens, an instructor in behavioral health and nutrition who runs the lab. “I was impressed at the space available, with one demo station and five individual kitchens for students to cook at,” Georger said.

They decided to offer a series of three cooking classes, and Georger surveyed Honors students to select cuisines. For March, students selected Indian, in April they would try Caribbean, and in May they will wrap up the series with Eastern European cuisine. Wiens recruited students from her department to plan menus that included nutritious offerings and to teach the courses. Meghan Bohny and Natalie Tee signed on to teach the first class. “These are great students…[and it’s] always more fun when students teach students,” Wiens said.

Each class begins with a short presentation about the importance of food in the culture they are cooking from. A few recipes are modeled at the demonstration table, and then students break up into small groups to cook different dishes that everyone will share at the end. “I liked that every group cooked a different dish, allowing everyone to try several dishes at the end,” said Sophia Marianello, a freshman Honors student.

The Indian cuisine class included vegetable samosas, chicken tikka masala, lentil dal, vegetable biryani, aloo gobi and mango lassi. For the Caribbean class on April 3, students cooked jerk chicken, pigeon peas and rice, fried plantains and coconut cookies, to name a few of the selections.

“I loved that we got to try a variety of traditional foods,” said Sara George, a senior in the Honors Program.

The final class, scheduled for May 3, will feature Eastern European cuisine. “We wanted to feature food from a variety of cultures. While Eastern European might be tougher to infuse nutrition into, I think we’re all looking forward to seeing what the students come up with,” Georger said.

For more information on the Food and Nutrition Lab, visit the website. 

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