The high school food studies class I have been teaching has finally come to an end for the year, and I like to think we went out with a bang. We ended with pie and a class-published food mag. Not too shabby, eh? For the class food mag, I had the students write about food during every class. Some weeks it was a simple “tell me your favorite x (candy, hot dog, pizza, etc.) and why you like it”, a few compare and contrast papers with food. Other weeks it was more creative with haikus about doughnuts and food photography. By the end of the semester, I had a wealth of food writing and photos from class, and I wanted my students to understand that their writing was important, not just a random assignment I gave them to make their lives miserable. The students collaborated by picking a magazine name, and I (along with the help of my amazing, tech-savvy husband) compiled it all into a food mag. I even managed to use some of their food photography for the cover shot, which was really cool. During our last class, the students read their entries out loud and we voted on our favorites to win prizes. Making the students write about food was perhaps one of the greatest things I could have done for this class. I feel like it helped put into perspective some of the concepts we were learning, especially about how food can represent more than just something you eat. Through these writings, I met a student who had traveled to Japan by himself and ate everything he was given, I met another student that immigrated from Peru and almost got arrested when she left school to go home for lunch, like she did in her home country. I was able to dive into the lives of students who were not the loud ones, not the ones who needed attention, but the ones that shy away from the crowd, the ones that didn’t always share in class, and that meant a lot. It is amazing how a single piece of writing can completely change your point of view about a student.
Finally, we ended the class with a trip to a local pie shop. As you might remember from a previous blog, I stumbled upon a gourmet pie shop that just so happens to be owned by a former pastry chef boss of mine.Chef Paula Haney was happy to host my LARGE and LOUD class in her tiny, narrow kitchen for two days in a row, and I cannot thank her enough.
The first day, the students were able to ask Chef Paula questions about the life of a pastry chef, but the second day, the students were able to ask questions AND see a demo of an apple-rhubarb pie being put together by another pastry chef. Both the questions and the demo were just a cool experience. Most students had never been inside of a bakery’s kitchen, nor did most have a pastry chef ready and willing to answer almost any question they threw at her. And that was part of the reason I liked working for Chef Paula so much back in the day–she was able to take a simple question, like where do you get inspiration for different pies? and talk about it from a gastronomic perspective, and yet still made my students understand what she was talking about.
For example, she talked about taking inspiration from historical recipes, especially desperation pies, or pies that were made with cheap ingredients during a time when people couldn’t afford much. She showed off a few of her own desperation pies, like a vinegar pie that had nothing more than sugar, flour, vinegar and eggs in it. By reviving these recipes and sharing them with my students, she taught them that you don’t always need money to make something delicious. Need proof?
Try this: her Hoosier sugar cream pie. And thank me later.
Thanks again to Chef Paula and her awesome staff for hanging out with me and my students! As my first food studies classes come to an end, I am extremely grateful for the experience. I was able to teach gastronomy to high school students, something I thought our country was years away from, and shockingly–most of them liked it! I am thankful for working with an extremely supportive school and having a budget big enough to allow my students to experience food they had never tried before, or gourmet versions of their favorite food. A year ago, I would have told you that I never wanted to be a teacher ever. EVER. Especially on the high school level. Who wants to spend all of their time creating lesson plans that students will ignore and talk through? Who wants to deal with moody teens? Now, I’m starting to go back on that. I didn’t realize I would enjoy connecting with students so much, especially over food, and I am excited to possibly get a chance to teach this class again. I wouldn’t quite call myself a teacher yet, but I am one very happy gastronomer, excited to see what is waiting around the corner for me. ~LTG! ************************************************* Hoosier Mama Pie Company 1618 ? W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622 312-243-4846 http://www.hoosiermamapie.com