FWCD new families with new students in grades 1-12 and Falcon Inclusion Team committee members were invited to a special FIT cooking event celebrating our community’s different cultures and backgrounds through food and wine on Monday, January 20, at the Central Market Cooking School. Chef Jon Bonnell ’89 and his aspiring protégés – Gloria Lin and Ivi Acuña ’90 – cooked four different recipes to share with the community members who took part.
“Sharing a culturally diverse meal seemed a natural and delicious way to put our FIT purpose to action,” said PFA President and FIT committee member Laura Rooker. “Jon Bonnell immediately came to mind as we began to think about the evening and what it might look like. He graciously agreed to donate his time and serve as our instructor, and, as always, he did not disappoint.
PFA Past President and FIT Committee Member Heather Senter added, “FWCD’s great working relationship with Central Market paved the way for the generously donated use of their kitchen classroom for the evening. Gloria and Ivi brought rich purpose to the experience through their love for their unique cultures and family stories.”
Head of School Eric Lombardi served as the evening’s emcee. He began the evening explaining the genesis of the event. The FIT parent group had created the Together We’re Better picnic launched this past fall, inviting the entire school for a back-to-school event celebrating, with educational booths, foods and music, the many cultures that comprise the FWCD community.
“The enthusiasm the picnic generated led FIT to want to host another event specifically for families who were brand new to the community. Accordingly, invitations for the MLK Day event went from FIT to our 2019-20 1st through 12th-grade First-time Falcon Families, Lombardi said. “Attendees at Central Market were FIT members and the parents of our First-time Falcon Families. Gloria and Ivi represented the FIT group sharing food from their childhoods. Between cooking lessons, parents introduced themselves and gave brief backgrounds about the child or children they had brought to FWCD this fall.”
The four recipes shared belonged to Lin and Acuna and, in some instances, were longtime family favorites. Lin kicked off the evening with Broiled Pork Chops, a recipe her Taiwanese mother created. “When I was 12, I went on a camping trip at school, and we had a barbecue competition,” Lin shared. “My mom told me I was sure to win with this dish, and, sure enough, I did.”
What sets the recipe apart from other Chinese recipes is the addition of cinnamon. Chef Bonnell noted the American association of cinnamon with sweets, while other cultures around the world often use the spice for savory foods. Gloria also shared that cornstarch is used in Chinese culture as a thickener instead of flour. “Cornstarch acts as a tenderizer when you are marinating a piece of meat. The flavors just sink right in.”
Acuña was up next and used the Instant Pot for her Monggo Guisado (mungbean ragout). “The mungbean is the main legume in the Philippines along with the beansprout,” Acuña said. “I ate a lot of these while growing up.”
Acuña shared that she uses this recipe as a base and therefore does not add any salt, meat or vegetables. “You wait to season or top it with Chicharrones (crispy pork rinds) when it is served.”
Recipe three was Lin’s Mapo Tofu, another one of her mother’s recipes. She shared a story that her mother told her of a restaurant owner in 1911 with the last name of Chen, who served some workers this dish when they wandered into her restaurant as she was closing. “This was the quick and flavorful dish that she whipped up with the ingredients she had on hand at the end of the day,” Lin noted. “It was called Mapo Tofu because the women who cooked it had a freckled face. Mapo means freckle face in Chinese.”
The final recipe, from Acuña, was Filipino-style Adobo. She shared that the dish would traditionally use pork as its meat, but she opted for chicken thighs. “This dish was a staple in my family growing up. We often took it on road trips,” she said. “You can make a large quantity and serve with sticky rice.” She noted that there are different versions of Adobo because the Spaniards took the recipe and then added different spices to it to make it spicier than the Filipino version.
At the end of the evening, the “students” had full stomachs, had made new friends and took home four new recipes to share with their families.
Information about a FIT community-wide campus kite-flying event is coming in the spring. Stay tuned.