Cultural Cooking Exchange
image: Thanksgiving Cooking Party; Chapel Hill, NC
by: Grayson Leverenz
Some of my fondest MBA memories include monthly cooking parties with my Japanese classmates and their families. It just happened that all of my Japanese classmates were men, and all were married. Their wives joined them in North Carolina for the business school experience, leaving careers, extended family and friends behind. Wanting to make the most of their time in the US, these amazing women decided to explore American culture through food.
Our first cooking party happened as a means to learn about Thanksgiving, a holiday focused on food, as well as giving thanks for family, friends and everything else that makes people happy. Ten women and seven children gathered in one family’s apartment and spent the day preparing a bountiful feast. We baked a 20 lb. turkey, macaroni and cheese and dressing (or stuffing as it’s sometimes called). We set a beautiful table with our traditional Thanksgiving meal complimented by Japanese favorites like fish balls and sushi.
When our husbands joined the party, there were almost 30 of us enjoying food, drink and discussion. And a new tradition was born. From that point on, we met once a month for a cooking exchange. One month my new friends taught me how to make a traditional Japanese dish, and the next I taught them how to prepare an American favorite.
Cooking exchanges are a wonderful way to deepen the MBA experience for both women and men. It’s an opportunity to practice speaking conversational English, make friends, learn about new cultures and have some fun all at the same time!