Sunday, February 1, 2009

Adventuring Out: Indian

I teach 10th grade English at a rad charter school dedicated to tripling the number of low-income Houstonians that go to college. My kiddos totally rule, but they know next-to-nothing about food. Oh, they can make a mean tamale and have fully fed my passion for Mexican soda... but they don’t branch out. Like, ever.

So this week I made a proposal. It went something like this.

ME: Hey, how many of you guys love tacos?
THEM: Oh me! Me! Me! I luuuuuve tacos.
ME: Great. How many of you like masala and naan?
THEM: [Blank stares]
ME: Time to branch out! Who wants to try Indian food on Thursday?!?
THEM: [Blank stares]
ME: Come on, guys! Let’s get out there and try new things!
THEM: Um, there’s a new [something-or-other] at Taco Bell...
ME: No! I mean something REALLY new. Like INDIAN FOOD.
THEM: [To each other] Really? Is she joking?

So Thursday night we toted 9 brave students to an Indian restaurant near campus. I gave them a brief primer on what to expect (samosas are like Indian egg rolls, naan is like tortillas but thicker) and excitement was in the air.

The restaurant prepared a buffet sampler for us, and while the kiddos initially turned up their noses at how the food looked, they got over it. And fast. They loved the thickness of the naan, the spices in the chicken rub, and the aromatic rice. They all cleaned their plates, and most went back for seconds. Hooray!

My classes were fired up the next day. How did it go? Can we go on a Wednesday next time? I really want to try Mediterranean food -- When will that one be?

So the buzz is there. Next up? Vietnamese.


fallingblue said...

That's awesome! I LOVE Indian food and I'm glad that you've introduced it to your kids. I have to admit that I used to stay in a food rut - it's so easy to stick to Mexican food and a few other things. It's almost sin considering that Houston is such a food mecca.

Knavish Kevin said...

Ingenious!!! What a treat for your students... talk about opening up the world and inspiring them! Are restaurants in Houston willing to co-sponsor events like this?

Anonymous said...

a favorite post -- love that the high schoolers are open to new.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ruthie! You're the best teacher these kids could ask for, in a million different ways. It's so wonderful that (a) you are willing to broaden their horizons and (b) they're willing to be influenced and learn. You rock! :)

jess said...

Ruthie, that's so awesome! Then they won't grow up to be like SOME of my co-workers who won't touch anything remotely different from what they're familiar with. Plus, it sounds like a great bonding experience! It's good to hear that you're teaching them things outside of just academics. =)

Daniela Estrella said...

It was a very exciting experience for all of us. Thanks for being such a wonderful teacher and going out of your way to introduce us to new things. I had a blast!

Genie said...

Let me know when you go for Vietnamese. I love me some pho...

Ctal said...

How totally cool of you to do a parent, I can attest that they may try it for YOU, where they may not with us! I regret being allowed to be such a picky eater as a kid, and not changing it until my 30s!! (gak)
I love reading about teachers like you! :)

Anonymous said...

Ruthie -- indeed these are fortunate students. I only wish I'd had a teacher like you when I was their age. Just dont let Rickyfud get involved, or those poor kids will be eating bugs on their hext outing! Cheflambo

Dr. Ricky said...

And what would be wrong about eating bugs? Harrumph. :)