Building Community Through Food


How do you spell ‘community’? For PICAns, it is spelled M-E-A-L, and they happen anywhere from three to five times a week! It is through the Community Meals that we come together socially, enjoying the fruits (and vegetables!) of our labor in the garden and spend time decompressing from the toil of being a student, even if it is only long enough to savor the flavor and get right back to the books!

For the length of each quarter, PICAns can sign-up to work in groups of three on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. We collaborate on a theme for dinner, we shop together, we prepare together, and then present the meal to our partners in sustainability. Everyone claps in appreciation, and the chefs get the pleasure of serving their meal, making sure that everyone gets a sample of the delicious bounty! It is a practice in evenhandedness–a quality necessary in the kitchen, in the garden, and in life!

Being the authors of a meal is a collaborative effort, an activity that develops the creativity, generosity, consideration, and commitment of the people involved. Being the recipient of the meal is symbolic recognition and acceptance of the aforementioned qualities in our PICA brothers and sisters. We gain inspiration from all the meals, each one feeding into the next.

If you are involved with the PICA seminar, the meal is an educational component of each class, and if you participate in the Garden Work Day on Saturday, lunch is served! To participate in Community Meals, one need not be a resident of PICA–all it takes is a balance in giving and receiving. We give $20.00 per school year to buy bulk goods for the meals, and we give our time to the preparation of minimum two meals a quarter. And for this giving, we receive the love and care expressed in the food we are served and the community it encourages!

From our happy bellies to yours, here is a great opportunity to invite some friends over for dinner and nurture a community of your own:

Raw Kale Salad (Serves 2-4)

1 bunch of kale (Green or Red Russian)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lime or lemon (juiced)
sea salt to taste
cayenne pepper to taste

Optional: 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced

Step 1. Finely chop kale (including the stems) OR, if you’re pressed for time, tear the leaves into smaller pieces and put them into a food processor, pulsing a few times with an S-Blade until you achieve bite-sized pieces.

Step 2. Transfer kale to large bowl and pour in the olive oil and the citrus juice. Use your hands to massage the wet ingredients into the kale–the action will soften the texture of this vegetable, help coat it completely with the flavors of olive oil and the citrus, and make your dish easier to digest.

Step 3. Add salt and pepper to taste, and any of your favorite salad toppings.

Marion Clark, Community Meals Coordinator

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