“Do you actually eat what you make in class?”
I wasn’t sure if this was a trick question. It was asked to me recently by a student’s mother.
Does she think everything we make is disgusting and is asking whether I actually taste what my students make to perhaps see if it’s edible? Does she want to know whether I eat with my students after they make something? Does she want to know if I test these recipes in my own home (and think they are able to be replicated in her own)?
Should I tell her I really only eat what my students make if it’s been cooked at intense heat (above 400 degrees F for more than 10 minutes is my rule). Because while I love the kiddies you try keeping 15 sets of elementary-aged fingers consistently out from where they don’t belong and see how quickly you stop eating food unless it’s been cooked under intense heat. Should I tell her I only eat (cooked food) one out of the five days I teach my students because you try eating the same dish every day for five days straight and keep excited about it? Should I tell her yes, I test these recipes and do think our dishes are manageable at home?
“Of course,” I smiled an affirmative on all possible questions.
A few minutes later her daughter approached me solo.
“Does your mom taste what you bring home?”
“Yeah, I gave my mom the soda bread this morning.”
“But we made soda bread almost a month ago.”
“It was in my backpack. I forgot to take it out.”
“Do you always give your mom food after it’s been in your backpack a month?”
“Uhh…” And a smile.
I now pictured how my students wrap their take-home food neatly before (often) pounding it flat with a fist. How they shove the package into their backpacks, wedging it into the smallest of cracks rather than place it in a larger, open pocket. How they swing backpacks wide and hard over their shoulders, then sling them across the floor when they get into class. How they climb the stairs thump-thump-thumping their backs against walls while they wait for fellow students to catch up from below. I think of the condition that object begins its life as and what it no doubt ends as: in crumbs and possibly rotten at the bottom of a backpack.
I wish I could go back to that mother.
I probably wouldn’t eat the stuff either.
This was a recipe we didn’t bring home to much disappointment (“But it’s the best thing ever!”) It was our Cream of Spring Soup to celebrate the coming season. Why such a vague title? Because Pea Soup sounds “Gross!” my students claimed. Why not Cream of Leek? Because it’s not just that. Why not Asparagus Pea? Because a co-worker laughed as he told me “it’s funny, because asparagus pee is actually something.” So Cream of Spring it was. It works, it’s delicious, and something a kindergartener said was so good we should hold on to the leftovers to showcase at our end of semester party. So we did freeze the leftovers to showcase at our party.
Cream of Spring Soup
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 leek, sliced
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 cup chopped sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon salt
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup basil, leaves only
1 pint sour cream
Warm butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and leeks, saute 5 minutes. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, salt and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add basil and sour cream. Using an immersion blender or carefully transferring into a regular blender, puree the soup until smooth. Serve with some good hearty grain bread or a puckery sourdough.