By Jija Dutt
Three student organizations used food as a way to educate about different cultures with a cultural food workshop on Thursday, April 18. Junior Ashley Madera, moderator of the Citizens of the World (COW) House, and senior Katherine Buckingham, a resident of the Modern Foreign Language (MFL) House, spearheaded the event. A few members of Ohio Wesleyan’s Latin American culture group, VIVA, were also involved in the planning and execution of the event.
The event was a part of Madera and Buckingham’s respective house projects, which are “a way for a member of a SLU (Small Living Unit) to share the values of their house with the OWU community,” according to Buckingham.
Madera said her favorite part of organizing house projects is how they can be used as learning experiences.
“For this project especially, we used food to show how different these countries can be although they are all Spanish-speaking and a part of Latin America,” she said.
Chartwells, OWU’s dining service provider, coordinated with the students to put together the event. The two-hour workshop took place in Smith dining hall. A set number of student participants and three faculty members attended the event, in addition to those who helped plan it.
Jeremy Baskes, associate professor of history; Christopher L. Fink, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Health and Human Kinetics; and Patricio Plazolles, program officer of the Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship were the faculty that assisted.
At the event, the faculty and VIVA members helped run the cooking stations.
The students rotated between the stations to cook tostones and mojo, chiles rellenos, ensalada de choclo, and alfajores. These are dishes from Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Argentina, respectively. Madera, who was the most familiar with the dishes, acted as the lead cooking instructor throughout the event.
“The most important part for me was to know that the students were enjoying themselves and learning new skills,” she said. “I believe that the accessibility of the recipes allowed those students who had never cooked before to realize that with a little practice and instructions, these seemingly difficult dishes are not as complicated.”
Junior John Bieniek, one of the participants in the workshop, said it was a good hands-on experience for people who do not know how to cook.
“It was important to learn about the history of each dish and what goes into making them,” he said. “The final result was the best meal that I can remember.”
Madera said she was already getting a lot of positive feedback from all those who were a part of it.
“I really believe that food is a great way to explore cultures around the world and I hope to bring this event back with other cultural organizations on campus,” she said.