Cooking classes offer new food experiences

By Elisabeth Loeck, NewsNetNebraska

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When it comes to college food, most students will be eating burgers, pizza and ramen noodles. But on Tuesday night, some UNL students dined on roasted pears with butter and honey instead.

Students and faculty were introduced to more traditional cuisine from Greece and around the world in the Cultural Cooking 101 classes organized by Student Involvement.

“I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class,” Maggie Potthoff, a UNL senior said. “It’s a good way to meet new people, try new food and do something I haven’t done before.”

On Tuesday, March 12, each group of students created a full Greek meal, complete with a Greek salad, rosemary chicken, a potato and garlic dish called Skordalia and a dessert of roasted pears with Greek yogurt.

Student Involvement works with the instructor of the course to come up with the food they will cook in class and the recipes that will be included in the cookbook, Abbie Gabel, a member of Student Involvement, said.

Previous weeks focused on Italian and Cajun cuisine.

With only room for 22 participants in the Italian and Greek courses, there was a waiting list for the class, mostly of students. About half the class was non-students.

Usually more students attend, but this year the email for the event registration was sent to faculty before students, giving them less time to sign up before registration was full, Gabel said.

For each of the sessions, the coordinators tried a different format.

“We want the best experience for students,” said Reshell Ray, UNL staff of Student Involvement, East Campus. They wanted to find what worked and didn’t work in the class to get a good mix for students, Ray said.

“The first week, not everyone did everything, so we didn’t get to see all of the techniques,” said Beth Whitaker, lab manager for the UNL department of biological sciences. “With the Cajun food, we watched [the instructor] the entire time and learned about the history of the food. This week is kind of a combination of both.”

The Italian and Greek course, taught by Dr. Georgia Jones, associate professor of Nutrition and Health Sciences, each cost $10. Instructing the course is part of her extension teaching.

“[The class is] definitely worth the ten dollars,” Potthoff said. “We got a whole meal, a cookbook and a little gift. A few weeks ago we got a strainer, and last week a little cutting board.”

The classes have been offered the last three years, and Gabel said they may offer them again in the summer.

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