We wanted to do to these cooking classes with the Ikamva Youth students in Nyanga and found that we had a few things to contemplate before we got started.
Our background as students from Copenhagen is in global nutrition and health. The question we posed ourselves was: How do you teach about health and nutrition when you come from different cultures and different realities?
Health, what is considered healthy and what the health needs of different people are, is certainly determined by different contexts. We knew that we could not waltz into Nyanga and tell students how to change their diets and dictate to them what ‘healthy’ is, since the term varies according toa number of determinants such as household income, which affect what people can afford to eat.
We therefore saw the cooking classes as an opportunity to explore and expose students to different cultures through food. In doing so we hoped to inspire students to broaden their awareness of food culture and ideas around health, while simultaneously encouraging them to stay open minded and try cuisines that seemed foreign to them.
In South Africa different types of foods and meals are associated with different groups of people, and certain foods are often considered the diets of some cultures and not others. By exposing students to different foods and cultural ideas we hoped to invite them to cross these cultural stereotypes and boundaries.
We had to work through many ideas at this stage, posing questions such as: Is our line of thinking relevant? Should we expose students to foods and ingredients that they can not buy in their immediate environment and ingredients that they can not afford?
Finally, we decided that it was worthwhile. Exposure to the unfamiliar can assist us in becoming critical thinkers and developing empathy towards other cultures. Most importantly it also allows us to rethink and be critical of cultural stereotypes and fixed definitions of things.
The next big question on our figurative plates was how we were going to fund this exercise. Jesper came up with the brilliant plan to do a fundraising charity event. A Yoga and Lunch charity event in Arderne Gardens, Claremont to be precise. After much planning and spreading the word, we were all set to host the event with the 16 Nyanga students.
The event took place on 17 March 2013 and we were overwhelmed by the support we received! Since we were teaching a yoga class, on the menu for the day was Indian food. We used ingredients such as asafetida (a spice) and ghee (clarified butter), which is at the heart of Indian cooking, in all the dishes me made. The food we prepared was inspired by an Indian woman, Sandhya, who has been making food for Western yoga students for many years in the south of India in Mysore, Karnataka.
The food was delicious and all the participants wanted the recipes and another homemade chapati to take home. The chapati ‘team‘ outdid themselves everyone asked for a second helping of chapati.
In the end we raised R6000 to put towards our cooking classes and we are overly delighted and blown away by the support that we have received.
A huge thank you to all the amazing people who supported our Yoga & Lunch fundraising event! Thank you to IkamvaYouth for the opportunity to work with the students, and thank you to the incredible students.
Thank you all a thousand times over :))
Jesper and Sharline