Food Stories Cookbook Project
presented by Art & Education Director Dorothy Yumi Garcia
For the past several years I have been revisiting the “food stories” submitted by students in my 1990's Pacific Oaks Human Development classes. With the help of several P.O. grads, I have fulfilled a vision of compiling a cookbook with seventy-five favorites. I would like to share this project with educators, hoping that it will resonate with teachers who seek to inform their pedagogy with new ways of building community in classrooms and valuing the life experience of each student.
Below is an excerpt from the introduction and sample story and recipe:
Winnie Dorn was a P.O. Master's student. For her thesis, Winnie developed a high school for "pushed out" students that had its first home at The Neighborhood Church. Despite the fact that the space was cavernous and beautiful, it was demolished to make way for the 710 freeway extension that has never materialized. I believe I may have hosted the last party to have taken place there, my launch to college in Bennington, Vermont! Sequoyah School now sits on the portion of church land that was preserved. Winnie's “Womb to Tomb” education for young adolescents was relocated to the rooms above La Loma Yard on the P.O. Children's School campus. The Mini-School had a new home and a new volunteer, me. I taught English until I left for college. Eighteen years later as a member of the P.O. faculty, my former classroom became my office.
The sharing of food became integral to the way Jane and Winnie bribed and seduced us to participate in meetings with all sorts of homemade delectables. Home cooking has a long tradition at the college, as evidenced by the proliferation of cookbooks created by the Pacific Oaks community at a time before Trader Joe's. Snack groups were established and frequently evolved into potluck affairs to satisfy the appetites of folks completing twelve-hour days. Over the years, TJ's became the go-to supplier, as cooking or baking was out of the question given time constraints of students with both work and family responsibilities.
As a member of the P.O. faculty, I incorporated potlucks into the final class of each semester to serve as an occasion to celebrate completion of projects and the creation of the community that had formed throughout the semester. While the potlucks took place during lunch, I found it nearly impossible to reel students back in because there was such a frenzy of recipe-exchanging. I attempted to address this by requiring the inclusion of recipe cards for sharing, only to realize that the interactions were not just about ingredients, but also the stories accompanying the dishes.
Thus Food with a Story assignments were born, acknowledging the ancestral dialogue that is transmitted backward and forward in time as we engage in the sacred act of eating. They became special and unique observances, an opportunity to reflect on the value of sharing meals and to experience the ritualistic anticipation of a feast. We all need to nourish ourselves, and sometimes eating is evocative of so much more than what’s on the plate. The stories included in this recipe book were collected during the last ten years of the 20th Century. I enlisted several people to assist in selecting a wide variety for inclusion. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to determine all of the authors, and I offer apologies to those who are not properly acknowledged.
Retail cost for the 116-page book will be determined soon. Profits will support Art Aids Art's teacher education work in Khayelitsha, South Africa.