Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Clase de Cocina

When I heard there was a free cooking class being offered Sunday mornings at a local restaurant, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. My site-mate Kristen and I showed up the following week, and along with 12 other generously proportioned Nicaraguan women, we began to learn some basics. The class is very informal and we’re loosely following a booklet that the teacher used when she took the class at the nearby university. There is a focus more on foods that you can prepare to sell: jams, pickled foods, candied fruits, sauces, etc. We have made mango and guava jam, pickled chili onions, candied orange peel, tomato sauce, vegetable juice, and sangria! (I got pretty excited about that last one, but it turns out they make it more with red soda pop rather than wine…hm…)

It’s been a nice group to be a part of. The ladies have lots to share, and since I’m a chef-in-training, I’m soaking it all up. Although we’re not making real “food,” I’m looking forward to using these recipes in the future (can’t wait until my mango tree ripens and I can make my own jam!) The ladies are also interested in learning some things from me. I’m going to show them how to cook with soy and also how to make peanut butter. Today in class, the women started talking about how happy they were that they signed up, how much they’ve learned, etc. One of them went off rambling about how, “Some people say they hate the kitchen! There are so many women out there that just don’t like to cook, but they need to learn! What a barbarity!” (In Nicaragua, everything is a ¨barbarity¨) I ducked down a little bit when she started saying that since I am a self-proclaimed “non-cook.” Being around all these cooking queens can make me a little nervous sometimes, but they are always eager to help and teach me.
The best part about the class is the matching aprons, hair covers and MASKS that they all have! Yes, masks… It looks like I’m hanging out with a bunch of middle-aged, portly gangsters. See photo below, oh so cute. It’s even better that the apron color is magenta.

They also thought it was hilarious that I was cleaning up after our messes. “Oh, your mother would be so surprised to see you cleaning!” they giggled. Hah! Little do they know that’s all I DO at home! They insisted on taking a picture of me mopping to prove to the folks back home that I was working down here in Nicaragua. Notice the stylish apron and head scarf they let me borrow.

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