Thursday, May 07, 2015

My Cooking Class!

Earlier today, the Brookings HyVee hosted a Brazilian Cooking class in their well-equipped Chef's Kitchen and classroom. The guest and amateur Chef was... Ana Braga-Henebry! Yep, yours truly! I enjoyed entertaining the classroom and I made a meal of coconut-chicken over rice, zucchini with fresh herbs, and the Brazilian traditional dessert: Milk Flan.

I was very comfortable in the kitchen, and there was much laughter and cultural anecdotes along with mycooking demonstration. I opened the class by surprising the room with the assertion that I had never heard of a Taco or an Enchilada until moving to the United States at age 22 for grad school. Along with experiencing snow for the first time, I learned then that Americans usually assume that Brazilian cooking is like the rest of South American cooking. I talked about differences in usage of herbs in tropical countries when they are fresh year round, of the fact that Brazilian health food guidelines include things such as "people should cook from scratch" and "families should sit together to eat". The class was lively and students lingered to chat afterwards.

I mentioned that I moved to Brookings last year, following my husband "Dr. Geoffrey Henebry who is at the SDSU Geospacial Center of Excellence". I mentioned that Husband travels the world doing and presenting scientific research, but he is quick to say that he prefers my cooking best of all.

Kayla Aman, the Brookings HyVee registered dietitian, who invited me, offered this quote about the class: “Ana’s food was fantastic; with so many great layers of flavor! As she prepared the meal she told stories of her childhood growing up in Brazil and how she learned to cook. Those stories gave the meal a very personal touch. Ana is so comfortable in the kitchen and it comes through in her cooking.”

When asked of how I have gotten so comfortable in the kitchen, I smiled and said something like: "Cooking is much more than just fixing food! I have been in the kitchen for over 30 years, feeding and loving my family, and our dinner guests as well. Cooking is more than food and ingredients--cooking can be both an Art and act of Love! Truly there is a sacredness about preparing and sharing a meal around the table. By eating as a family, or entertaining dinner guests, we tell stories, we pray, we reminisce... we compose and recite poetry--indeed we build culture!" People asked me about future plans regarding my cooking, especially afterwards at a Brazilian ladies' night at a downtown restaurant. I think of how my family and friends have long encouraged me to expand my cooking beyond the home. I am beginning to think that a personal catering service may be a possibility. Even Husband approves the idea.

I have been already invited to return to the HyVee kitchen and I will set a date with Kayla for Kate summer or early fall, this time with a menu of Brazilian Black Beans over rice, meat-filled Brazilian pastries, and a surprise Brazilian chocolate dessert!

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