BSGE’s Spanish teacher, Mr. Giraldo, started the school year with a plan of three field trips for the 10th grade. The first trip was an international outing to Spain and France during Spring Break. The second trip he planned was to the Museum of Modern Art to view a special exhibition on Hispanic artists. Mr. Giraldo’s students briefly studied famous Hispanic artists like Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Fernando Botero, and Salvador Dali to prepare for their trip to MoMA. They learned about the history of these artists and the many styles of art that were exemplified in their works. Students were paired with partners to create Powerpoint presentations on the artists that they chose to study. Unfortunately, the trip to MoMA was cancelled because of conflicting schedules.
However, Mr. Giraldo had planned yet another trip for his students. It was a trip to A La Carte, a cooking school located in Lynbrook, NY. Since Mr. Giraldo teaches two separate groups of students in the tenth grade, his B-day students went to the trip on Tuesday, May 27th, and his A-day students followed after on Friday, May 30th. To get to A La Carte, students met Mr. Giraldo and the chaperones, English teacher Ms. Meisler and school aid Ms. Noboa, in the lobby at 8:55am. Students and chaperones took the MTA subway train and Long Island Railroad.
The students walked through Atlantic Avenue in Lynbrook, a charming street lined with quaint little shops and buildings, before they arrived in front of the A La Carte cooking school. They walked through the dining area in front, dropped off their sweaters and bags in the back room, and put on their aprons before meeting their cooking instructors in the kitchen. The name of the cooking program is “An Afternoon in Spain,” taught by George Trimes, a cooking instructor at A La Carte. Trimes gave students helpful hints on how to stay safe in the kitchen, handle knives properly and avoid burns and fire hazards. Then, the students were given a brief overview on the dishes they were going to prepare, and were divided into different groups that each made different dishes.
Students in the group making handmade flour tortillas started from scratch, using a tortilla press to flatten out the dough, and then they filled, folded, and grilled them into cheese quesadillas. Another group of students made tortilla de patata, an eggy potato served over a thin slice of bread. The students learned a cooking technique called tempering, or carefully raising the temperature of ingredients prone to curdling like eggs and milk. Students in the group making arroz con leche, or rice pudding, also learned how to temper. One of the cooking instructors mentioned that a delicious way to cook rice pudding differently is to “add Mexican chocolate.” Although there was no Mexican chocolate in the rice pudding, the dessert was spiced with a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg.
The students who made guacamole, an avocado dip, used a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle called a molcajete. The molcajete is made of a roughly textured volcanic rock that allows ingredients to be finely blended into a paste. Students learned a helpful tip from a cooking instructor to place avocado pits into the guacamole, sprinkle it with lime juice, and seal it with plastic wrap to keep it from browning while waiting for it to be served. The dish that took longest to make was the chicken paella, a dish made of chicken and toasted rice. Students learned about saffron, an exotic Spanish spice that they were using to flavor the rice.
When a student was asked about the trip, Christian Trotti ‘16 said, “It was a fantastic experience.” Natalia Belchikov ‘16 agreed and said, “Since I am learning the Spanish language, learning about traditional Spanish food enlightened me on the culture.” After all the dishes were made, the food was placed on a table where students lined up to get their first taste of all the food they created that day. There was enough food for second helpings, and some students enjoyed the food so much that they got up for a third.