baking with teachers

This morning I held a baking class for the teachers and Doña Ana. The class was their idea. I was thrilled to oblige. Interested adult learners are The Best! says the I’m-fed-up-to-my-eyeballs-with-lazy-teenagers teacher (more on that later).

I charged them Q20 each (less than three US dollars) to cover the basic costs, but then I donated/provided a bunch of fancy ingredients because:

1) Why not?
2) I’m sick of cooking with limitations, both budgetary and ingredient-ary.
3) Eager learners deserve it.

We made four recipes each of Easy French Bread and Five-Minute Bread. We kneaded in raisins and cinnamon to half of the French bread, and the remaining half we turned into cinnamon rolls and plain rolls with sesame seeds on top. With the five-minute bread we made a giant pepperoni pizza, beirocks, and pepperoni rolls (kind of, but mostly not really). They shaped the last batch of five-minute bread as you would pizza and spread it with margarine and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. (Upon tasting it, we discovered that Osmar, the only male participant, had neglected to add the salt.)

The teachers caught on to the bread-making techniques super quick. They loved that we were making so many different kinds of breads—it drove home the point that bread is flexible. They had tons of questions and suggestions.

What about doing it this way?
Could we add fresh fruit? Why not?
What about adding basil and black pepper to the pizza crust?
Could we fill these with ham? Sausages?
We could make calzones!

I could tell that my answers were absorbed and then tucked away. Already one of the teachers is planning to make sweet rolls for her husband’s birthday on Sunday.

One thing that I’ve noticed about baking with Guatemalans (and maybe Nicaraguans, too?) is that they don’t sample the finished product first thing. I am always super eager to cut into a cake and see how it turned out (and have a permanently burnt tongue to show for it), or I immediately tear open a roll to see if it is baked all the way through. But not these women. They wait until everything is done baking and then they divide it out between them and only then do they start tasting. I’m not sure what they thought of me when I scarfed a fresh cinnamon bun. Greedy barbarian, probably.


  • Kate

    Do you think it's harder to teach teachers or students? My mom says it's really hard to teach a teacher because they're not used to it, but students are.

    • Jennifer Jo

      From my experience, it's a lot harder to teach students. The teachers (most are also students because they're taking weekend university classes) are more adept at knowing how to handle new information. Plus, they're MUCH more mature and they're there because they WANT to be there. Makes all the difference.

  • beckster

    Are they culturally just more patient that we Americans? I think their request for this class should show you that they feel you have things to contribute, that they trust you to do it well, and that you will leave your mark here. Isn't it fun to think of them passing these skills along? All the baking looked good. I'm hungry now!

  • Kathy

    When people have nothing, they will share, because they know what it is like to do without. It is only when they have something, and have always had something, that they become greedy.

    I am reminded of this every time my husband sucks on his chicken bones, yet I throw mine away with bits of fat & tendon still on.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Sometimes this is the case, but I've actually seen much more of the opposite. When people are poor, things have to be divided up very equally or someone is sure to take more. If the dividing up process isn't closely monitored, people are quick to grab and hide. Their speed and greed is astonishing to those of us who have enough to be relaxed about losing a bit. (These teachers are educated and not dirt poor. They managed the dividing up process just fine.)

  • Mama Pea

    Previously you've questioned whether you are making a difference and/or contribution to these peoples' lives. Proof positive that you HAVE!!

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