Oui Chef or Field Trip, Part II

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            Back on the spice trail with my 40-11 year old friends.  This time, we only went to the nearby Tunisian suberb of Les Berge du Lac where we were booked at Mille et Une Saveurs cooking school.  We had told them about the spices we had been tracking through history and economies:  pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, saffron, and vanilla.  They agreed to teach us to make several dishes using all of them.

            We were greeted in the stylish, efficient preparation space by chef Wafik and the staff who had clearly anticipated our needs throughout the entire experience.  I will say that when you choose to take bus loads of children out for an experience in the community you are hoping, at least, that the presenters are able to teach them what you hope they will learn.  If those people happen to be naturally wonderful teachers themselves, able to break complex information into active learning steps, then you have made a great connection.  Chef Wafik was exactly this type of teacher.  He had a dozen tricks to keep our students engaged, using all of their senses.  He also knew a thing of two about group management.  One of his tricks was when he clanged together two pot lids like cymbals all of the students shouted back, “Oui chef!”  Working with them in such a fun way made the students  happy to comply.

            They began with an introduction to hard spices and leafy herbs and the types of dishes in which they might be found.

            We layered the lasagnas, using preassembled, spice infused bolognese and béchamel sauces.

             There was also a vegetarian preparation using pasta, béchamel, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and cheese.  That is the dish I chose to make at home over the weekend.

            The most challenging element was probably the tart, requiring meticulous rolling, cutting, pinching, and filling.  Each one had a unique personality.

            Finally, students decorated cinnamon/vanilla cupcakes.

            And then we sat down to eat together. 
            Mille et Une Saveurs  primarily hosts events for adults.  I hope to book some group cooking school time when my new friends move here in August.

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