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Cooking up a Cultural Lesson in the Homeschool Kitchen

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By Beverly S. Krueger

The United States has many cuisines all clamoring for attention. It’s easy in most towns and cities to find a variety of ethnically oriented restaurants including Chinese, Mexican, and Italian. Large to medium sized metropolitan areas have many more cultures represented. Eating out at an ethnic restaurant is always an adventure. The tastes and smells, the decorations, and the staff of the restaurant provide a glimpse into the ethnic origins of the food served. If you live in small town America, your access to anything beyond those cultures listed above is rare. You can bring that experience to your home by exploring various cultural cuisines on your own.

In addition to learning about different foods, you’ll be learning new preparation techniques. You may also want to pursue why a particular culture uses particular foods and excludes others. Usually this has to do with the geographic location of the country you are studying. The cuisines of Greece and Italy are very similar because those countries are both found on the Mediterranean Sea. Staples differ from geographic region to geographic region based on growing conditions. The steppes of Russia are ideal for winter wheat while Southeast Asia’s climate is suited for rice. A study of history will determine why certain cooking techniques are used. Pickling, drying, curing, and covering food in fat are all methods of food preservation. Learning the historical use of food preservation in a particular cuisine will gain you insights into the history of that culture.

To get you started on your exploration of other cuisines we’ve prepared a list of resources that will provide you with recipes, information about ingredients and cooking techniques, and places to explore the history of food preparation. Spending time once a week or once a month cooking an ethnic meal will stimulate a natural desire to discover more about the country or people who eat those foods, a tasty way to add cultural geography to your homeschool studies.

History of Food Preparation

Food Timeline
Quite a few resources her for help in pursuing and I wonder why type questions your children may ask concerning why a culture does something in a particular way. The listings also cover agriculture issues, legal issues concerning food, technology and food, book suggestions, and a section of online historic cookbooks.

Exploring the Mystery of Hand-Written Recipes
This article looks at the difference between cooking today and in the past. It helps explain some of the terminology in old recipes like “butter the size of an egg.”

Recipes

Recipe Source Ethnic Recipes
Subcategories include African Recipes, North & South American Recipes, Asian & Pacific Island Recipes, European Recipes, Non-Regional Ethnic Cuisines.

AsiaRecipe.com
Recipes from all areas of Asia with cooking ingredient, equipment, and methods pages.

African Cooking and Recipes
Recipes, discussion of ingredients and cooking techniques.

The Elegant Chef North Africa Cooking
The North African cooking includes the foods of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt.

O Chef European Cooking Archive
Articles that discuss topics pertinent to the cuisines of Europe for example the shelf life of olives, how to thicken sauces with blood, and what are pot herbs.
O Chef Africa, Kosher, and Other Regions Cooking Archive
O Chef Asia Cooking Archive
O Chef Latin Cooking Archive
O Chef North American Cooking Archive
O Chef History Archive
Includes sections on the history of ingredients, the history of techniques, cooking history and traditions, and historical recipes.

Ethnic Cooking Indexes

Open Directory: Cooking: World Cuisines
Listing of more sites devoted to world cuisines or specific cuisines.

Food in Latin America
Many of the listed sites are in Spanish or Portuguese. Some are in English.

Whats 4 Eats
A variety of articles and recipes that give insights into the different foods eaten around the world. The series of articles that provide seasonal recipes from around the world were particularly interesting.

Carnegie Library
The Food & Cooking section has pages devoted to a variety of ethnic cuisines and other food and cooking sites.

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