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Traveling the world one morsel at a time

Woodbury Middle School eighth grader Emma Moxley said all of the ingredients in a spring roll made her a little intimidated.

Some District 833 students got an international tour last week - with food.

District 833 Community Education's five-day "Cuisine From Around the World" cooking class was held at East Ridge High School. The class included eight students in grades seven through 12.

The class is taught by the Kids in the Kitchen group.

Kids in the Kitchen has been offering summer cooking classes for students within District 833 for the past three years.

"Cuisine From Around the World" is a first-time class.

Class instructor Kristine Iturrino said she decided to offer an international cuisine class after previous students had requested it.

"Each class kind of decides the future," she said. "We try to meet their needs and what they like because adult tastes are very different than kids'."

During each day of "Cuisine From Around the World" the class studied a different country.

The class started out making American dishes before expanding to the international foods so students could see the differences between foods, Iturrino said.

During the week, the young chefs explored Spanish-speaking countries with a traditional Puerto Rican stew and flan, experienced France by making crepes, traveled across the world to Vietnam with spring rolls and vacationed in Italy with calzones and cannolis.

"They haven't always liked everything, but it's a variety to try," Iturrino said. "It's good to try things and realize when you get older you might like it better."

Woodbury Middle School eighth grader Emma Connell said she really enjoyed being able to try the different foods, even though she didn't necessarily love it all.

"It's not normal recipes that I would try at home," she said. "It's fun to get the opportunity to try some new stuff."

Throughout the week Iturrino said she definitely had some students who would wrinkle up their noses at just the thought of some of the food, but more often than not, when they tried it they ended up liking it.

"Its been interesting to have kids who are skeptical about it, but yet they're willing to make it and try it," she said. "Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don't."

For example, when the class went to work making the Puerto Rican stew, there were a lot of grossed out faces, Iturrino said.

"They were totally 'eewed' out by it at first -- they were just like 'yuck,'" she said. "But when we were done, they loved it, even the skeptics."

Iturrino said the key is to relate the unique dishes to something the students are familiar with.

"There's a basic stew we make here in America, but this is like it's on steroids --it's got all this flavor and spices," she said.

Connell admits that she was one of the students who was a little intimidated by the stew at first, but ended up really liking it.

However, not all foods can be winners though as evidenced by Woodbury Middle School eighth grader Emma Moxley. She wasn't a fan of the flan.

"I'm a big texture person," she said.

Iturrino said it is beneficial to open the students' eyes to what kinds of food there are in the world because it expands their worldview.

"It opens there eyes to that there is a lot of variety," she said. "It's about expanding the mind and getting it ready for the future.

"It gets them ready to at least try something they're not familiar with."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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