As famed chef and writer James Beard once noted, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." So what better way to learn about a culture than through its cuisine? Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the country, so in this class -- taught by Najat Al Zahawi, one of our Kurdish neighbors -- you'll learn to prepare biryani served with salad, flat bread, tea and Arak, a Middle Eastern liqueur made with fermented dates. But you'll also learn Najat's personal stories behind these dishes as well as why they are important in Kurdish history and foodways.
This class is part of The Skillery Culture Kitchen series, which aims to connect us at the table by teaching new culinary skills while also providing cross-cultural exposure and bridging gaps in understanding one another. We'll learn about the foodways of an area from the people who have lived and cooked there.
Students of The Skillery Culture Kitchen will not only learn to cook the dishes they taste at the dinner, they'll walk away with recipes and insider tips on locations and ingredients to shop for in Nashville's international markets. They'll learn the back story of the dishes they taste -- both personally and historically -- and they'll leave with a deeper understanding of a place and its people.
In future classes, The Skillery Culture Kitchen will take us to places like Mexico to learn about mole and tamales as well as Bhutan, Honduras or Somalia. We'll also make an occasional stop at home in the American South to learn about traditional foods often forgotten such as beaten biscuits.
This class has already occurred.
Wednesday June 5, 2013
6:30PM - 9:00PM
Najat Al Zahawi moved to the United States from Kurdistan in May 2010 just three days after the Nashville Flood. Though she worked as a biologist and science teacher in her home country, she essentially had to start over here, working in the YMCA day care and taking classes through the Nashville International Center for Empowerment, where she has made friends from Sudan, Iraq and Egypt. An avid cook, Al Zahawi often prepares dolmeh and biryani for her friends. "They always call me and say, 'Come cook for us,' " she said..
Jennifer Justus is food culture reporter at The Tennessean and author of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Nashville (Globe Pequot Press, November 2012). Her work has been featured in editions 5 and 6 of Cornbread Nation: the Best of Southern Food Writing; Alimentum literary food journal, Nashville Lifestyles magazine, Southern Living, Food Network magazine, The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, among others.
Prior to journalism, Jennifer worked in qualitative research studying the emotional connections we make with food. She spent hours in the kitchens of home cooks looking for the reasons behind the comfort in a pot of chili, and she conducted deprivation studies with teenagers across the country to understand the craving for a slice of pepperoni pie. Through this work Jennifer gained first-hand experience digging deeper into food’s roles in our lives as art, travel, sociology, agriculture and health, but also as a simple everyday act needed for survival that brings us together at the table. She has been a speaker at the Southern Food Writing Conference, the International Foodservice Editorial Council conference, and she blogs at “a nasty bite" (http://anastybite.blogspot.com), an expression her grandmother gave to a simple meal.