cooking as a second language workshop
Cooking As A Second Language Workshop

Everyone that knows me really well knows that I am NOT a cooker girl.  And no, I am not ashamed to say that I’m really not that good at it, but in my defense, I never tried that hard. And I don’t stress because many of my friends and family have it covered.  I’d like to think that feeding me is one of the major ways they like to express their love for me 😉 and me sometimes slipping into a food coma is the way I express it back!

But from time to time I do like to at least TRY and give the whole “cooking thing” some effort.  So when my sister told me about the fun she had and what she learned at a cooking class she took a few weeks ago and signed up for next one, I figured here was my “try” opportunity.  So this past Sunday, she and I and my friend attended the Cooking As A Second Language workshop co-sponsored by  HI Richmond Hostel (super cute inside, I would recommend), the Richmond Public Library & the Birdhouse Farmers Market.

The concept behind the series of the cooking workshops is so awesome because the instructor and the participants create unique dishes together to communicate across cultural boundaries.  And our instructor, Jiao Jiao Ding showed us how to prepare two traditional Chinese meals: Mapo Tofu and Beef Stew.

cooking as a second language
Chef JoJo

What I really enjoyed most about the class is how all of the participants were working together, chatting and sharing tips. As we were all doing our little tasks to help prepare the meal, Chef JoJo was giving us background on her Chinese culture and explaining the importance of food preparation being a big family thing.

I stuck to what I knew I could do well, which was cut the potatoes…lol, but the vibe was so comfortable I felt like I would not have been too embarrassed to announce that I did not know how to peel garlic if asked o_O.  The group of us ranged from other novice like myself to one guy who is considered a “foodie” and just came to learn about a new Chinese dish.

We are focused.
Trenace (the sister) gloving up!
Alex Hicks of Nerd Squad & Librarian Patty Parks with the Richmond Public Library chopping it up!


After the meal is finished being prepared and the dishes are done (we all pitch in with clean up as well) we sit down together as a class and enjoy our meal. And at this point we have successfully cooked together so our conversations turned into some really good “get to know you” sessions.  I left feeling like I made these tiny little friendships.

Traditional Chinese Beef Stew
Mapo Tofu


The take away for me was that I felt like this is what community should feel like.  We are all different, but somewhat the same. We all have something to contribute, we all can learn something new and food is a wonderful place to start.

The next class is on February 4th and I got the inside scoop that it will be all about Morrocan food!

Cooking as a Second Language is a completely free program. Space is limited, so registration is required. Event info and registration links will be posted the Richmond Public Library’s Facebook page.