I went to my first community kitchen Wednesday night. It was held at a church right across the street from me, very convenient. Every two weeks we get fresh picked produce delivered from Yummy Yards, a local urban farm. Problem is, we don’t know what we’re getting until we get it. Makes it a little hard to plan ahead, but we managed. We made two kinds of pasta (one wheat, one rice) and topped it with an Alfredo sauce. We did two versions of the sauce too, to accommodate dietary restrictions, one with dairy, one with soy. We added some chopped garlic scapes (flower stalks) for spicing. Then we steamed up all the many greens: kale, chard and lambs quarters and tossed up a big salad. There were eight of us and it was just a lovely, chatty, chaotic time. We all sat down to eat together, learn more about each other and plan for the next time.
Some of the participants are learning English and the kitchen setting gives them lots of practice and new vocabulary. They are teaching me some useful Mandarin phrases too. So far I can say okay (hǎode) and an informal how are you? (ni hao ma). I belted out both phrases with confidence, which sent my teachers into peals of laughter. I’m sure my pronunciation was hysterical, but I understood their laughter to be out of appreciation for my enthusiasm. Hopefully we’ll learn a little about Asian cooking too.
The kitchen was made possible through a Neighbourhood Small Grant funded by the Vancouver Foundation and the City of Vancouver. These grants of $50 to $1000 go a long way and have a real impact in the community. Last year, I participated in a canning workshop, thanks to a community grant awarded to Village Vancouver. I learned how to can, came home with canned beans and tomatoes and now have access to community canning equipment. This year, one of my community gardens received a grant to put in new rodent resistant wood and wire compost bins. Small inputs, delicious community rewards.