Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today: Cultural Experience 1 of 2

This evening some of my AP Human Geography students and I met at a local Vietnamese restaurant for dinner.  Bistro B is owned/operated by the mother of one of my students.  Several times each school year, I try to introduce my students to some of the cultural bases culinary arts within our community.  Previously this year we have eaten at Royal Bavaria (German cuisine), Panang (Thai cuisine), and Bella Vista (Italian cuisine).  I also have an Ethiopian restaurant in my sites for before the school year is over.

Many times educators scoff at the idea of using food as a way to teach culture.  While I can agree that tasting parties at school can sometimes trivialize the complexities of culture, I don't believe that culinary arts should be marginalized when discussing culture.  Food, and our love of food, is a universal human need.  The way that we approach the food we choose to eat, the foods conducive to the environment in which we live, the methodologies we use to prepare our food, etc., etc., etc. so often speaks to the very heart of culture.

By physically going to locally owned restaurants which specialize within culinary arts of a variety of world cultures it allows my students to get a greater sense of the global diversity right within our own backyards.  Additionally, since most of the more authentic restaurants are small business enterprises and thus we are truly helping to support local residents in their economic endeavors.

Images from dinner tonight!

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