Cookin’ up at Rainier Beach High School

By Leika Suzumura

When the room was empty at 2:40pm, I was already coming up with a revised recruitment plan, but sure enough……they started to trickle in with hunger in their eyes! It was our first day back for the new school year, continuing from a very successful club last year! The after school cooking club at Rainier Beach HS is part of CKNW’s newest program of community kitchen style cooking at schools. Our goal – simple…cook and eat good food with us, then go home and cook and eat good food with your family and friends! Yes, the agenda is broader than that, but as long as the focus of our class is good food, we are guaranteed to have student interest!

Growing at RBUFW

The menu for our first class was veggie quesadillas. I harvested fresh kale and chard from the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetland literally an hour before students chopped and ate it! One student’s thoughts on the veggie quesadillas…”this is bomb!” I interpret that as explosion of flavor…indeed bomb! I also wanted to talk about “culture” as it relates to our food traditions. Did you know that the quesadilla as we know it today was a mix of native Mexican foods (mostly corn, beans, chili peppers….) and Spanish influence bringing in cheese. Throwing in the concept of local and seasonal foods brought in the fresh kale and chard and created the “bomb” veggie quesadillas.

I see culture as sprouting from a place of survival. Based on our beliefs and what we have available to us, we begin to form traditions and daily practices. On the food theme, this may flower into a tradition like Thanksgiving or a fast like Ramadan, or Kosher foods. In a broader sense of culture, it may blossom into an art form like Capoeira Angola, or a pop song like Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”- reflections of our beliefs, ideas and way of survival.

What’s your culture? How does it affect the way you live, or the food you eat?

Next week we’ll be making individual pizzas. Stay tuned to see how we make our pizzas explode with flavor and use fresh produce from the farm!