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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Excellence in College Prep


Wanting to create a fun, hands-on experience for her students, Spanish teacher Mrs. Mariana Martinez developed a cooking session for Spanish students who wanted to learn how to cook while also teaching them about Spanish cuisine and traditions. In addition to learning proper techniques for how to make traditional Spanish side dishes, students had a blast creating these dishes and enjoying them together. Students had the opportunity to discuss the intentionality behind the ingredients they used and how Spanish cultural norms, with a specific focus on food, differ from American habits.

Unlike American culture where eating fast, skipping meals or eating alone have become socially acceptable due to time restraints, busy schedules and convenient takeout options, Spanish culture intentionally carves out time throughout the day to take the time to enjoy eating, to have multiple meals spread out throughout the day and to share meals with groups of people from family and friends to neighbors and coworkers. In Spain, breakfasts are typically a light meal followed by a mid-morning snack of tapas, small plates of finger foods that are generally enjoyed with company for an early socializing opportunity. Although Americans usually eat dinner as the largest meal of the day, Spaniards eat a heavier, larger meal during lunchtime and it's not uncommon for them to take up to three hours off from work or school to enjoy lunch with others. With a mid-afternoon snack, a light late-night dinner and a sweet treat for dessert around midnight, Spaniards prioritize meals and sharing them with company at all times throughout the day.

This lesson was a refreshing realization for our students and encouraged them to reflect on how they prioritize time in the kitchen with their families or how often they take time to sit down around a table with friends and loved ones to enjoy a meal for an extended period of time. Mrs. Martinez's lesson not only taught students cooking techniques and how to work together to create a tasty meal, but also how to appreciate another culture's daily traditions and how to take a step back from our busy schedules and appreciate the time we have to share with one another. Understanding and living out another culture's traditions different from our own creates a shared space for us, and especially our students, to grow in community and to appreciate the aspects of life that others cherish and value.

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