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A Cooking Class: Immigrant Kitchens

September 1, 2011

While in Maine this summer, we visited friends in Portland. AAM grew up with MM, and the two kept in contact despite several moves, growing up in different states, MM’s serving in Iraq while AAM went a different career path, and just general life changes. Every year, we are sure to visit MM and his wife KM. Althought KM and I didn’t originally know each other, we tend to keep in better contact than the boys. We have similar interests in plants, food, and wine. She takes these things very seriously, and I feel I learn so much from her knowledge and enthusiasm.

A week before this summer’s visit, KM emailed to ask if I would like to join her in a cooking class. The class, called “Immigrant Kitchens,” was run by a professional chef, Lindsay Sterling, who introduced local Mainers to dishes cooked by people from around the world. A naturally curious chef, Lindsay meets various homecooks and restaurant chefs. She invites herself over and watches them cook their favorite dishes from scratch, and then tries to cook them herself. She uses the exercise as an opportunity to learn about another persons traditions and stories. Lindsay also practices the dishes several times. Then, she invites her new cooking friend to join her in a cooking class. Together, they teach people in the Portland area to cook various meals. The cost of the meal is a small donation to the Freeport  Food Pantry. For August, we learned to cook Cambodian.


Photo: Tim Greenway

Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to have a fun time with my friend and learn how to make Cambodian food. Lindsay is a wonderfully laid back and unpretentious chef, who really taught us to feel comfortable with new ingredients. My friend and I had a great time getting our hands messy and trying to make new foods. She taught us about what to buy in Asian markets, and showed us the prepared ingredients and how to make the meal from scratch.  I appreciated learning the authentic way, and well, the shortcut for work nights.  She told stories, with such ease, while she showed us how to make Spring Rolls and Cambodian Curry Soup. Although the recipes had fish and meat in them, she was very accommodating for vegetarians. She altered my soup to have eggplant and yams. I felt so comfortable with the food, that only a few days later I taught my niece how to make the Spring Rolls: such a fun activity for a younger chef (which I will post soon!). I will definitely make the Spring Rolls with my middle school World Geography students as well.

If you are ever in Maine, especially shopping in Freeport, I highly recommend timing your visit for an Immigrant Kitchens class. You will have a blast, and really learn about how to make authentic food from around the world. Check out her website to learn more:

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