Food is an excellent way to learn about a new culture. It was with that idea in mind that I created the Cooking Cultural Exchange a few years ago. The project consists of two classes partnering up in different states or countries. Each class researches the history of a traditional food item from their own state or country. Then, connecting via video conference, each class demonstrates how to make their traditional food item and then shares some facts about the food with their partner class. Teachers can then share their recipes with the other class so all students can make both food items at home.
When my 4th graders did this project this fall, we partnered with an after-school cooking class in Uruguay. We started the project with a Mystery Skype, then each class challenged the other to do the project. My students choose pumpkin pie as our traditional food to share. Within the next two weeks when our classes would connect live again, my students researched pumpkin pie recipes, the history of pumpkin pie, and then made inferences about why pumpkin pie is considered an American dessert and why it’s typically eaten in the fall.
The day we connected the second time with our Uruguayan partner class over video conference, I had brought in all of the ingredients for pumpkin pie from home. Each student was assigned to either demonstrate how to measure and add a specific ingredient to the bowl, or to share a fact or inference that they had researched. After students had demonstrated step-by-step how to make pumpkin pie and shared their research, our partner class demonstrated how to prepare a traditional Uruguayan dessert.
After the call was over, several students had brought in pies from home so that we could taste what a finished pie was like! Each student went home with both class’ recipes so they could recreate the desserts with their families. It was a great way to share and learn about different cultures through food and cooking!