As I started my work in the kitchen, one thing that I most fancied was baking. Deep down in my heart I really wanted to learn how to do it, but I had less opportunities or rather less courage to voice out my desire and I kept on thinking that I could never do it. Then came a volunteer from America, Alice Mar, who joined our kitchen crew. She was really good at baking and each time I saw her baking I secretly fancied her skills and wished to be like her if at all I could get a chance. One day I approached her with courage - her answer was simple and friendly, “Oh, it’s very easy. Just watch me. I will teach you my simple methods!” and YES, she did.
Since then, I never looked back. Alice’s approach helped me to be inclusive - every year THE FEAST section receives members from different backgrounds with wide ranges of different work experiences. I make it sure that none feel superior, and none feel inferior because of their skills. I give equal opportunity to everyone to learn from one another. The baking skills I achieved through Alice’s approach broke down the walls within myself and through this experience, I have been able to help other people to accept each other as they are. Most importantly I try to find the members’ potential and encourage them to use it to improve the FEAST section. This is how Ms. Isabela Valencia from Wellesley College accepted my request to work on an ARI Cookbook as her Independent Study Project. It was my dream for the kitchen. Every time people came and made their special dishes or baking, I requested their recipes. Accumulating these over the years, the ARI Cookbook was formed!
Everyone is included in the ARI kitchen - from the experienced cooks to the first timers!
The ARI kitchen is a unique one. People from recipe-oriented backgrounds or non-recipe oriented backgrounds, like me, develop a lot of skills using ARI produce in many ways. I feel it is an amazing thing to experience. The dishes are normally our own creations or some kind of medley formed from recipes and various ethnic cooking styles, all using ingredients from our own fields. In retrospect, the skills that I acquired are mostly naturally learned. Once you grasp this natural way of ARI operations, you can automatically get the whole cycle of ARI food production and consumption. I would say it’s an “Unbroken Chain of the ARI System” and which can be applied at individual or family levels.
A place we can introduce our own unique food culture
The ARI kitchen is a highly diverse place and there are even times when we cannot understand each other’s food cultures since food is directly related to our emotions and senses. But in many ways, it is from this kitchen that peace building starts. Everybody is busy working in different places on the campus, but when eating time comes people gather together, regardless of class or religious background or tiredness from work. They sit side by side with one another chatting, laughing, sharing, scooping out food from the same bowls. It’s a joy to see them! FEAST plays a core role in the training program. And even when sometimes we are overwhelmed with our workload the greatest joy of the FEAST section is putting food on the table for the joy and good health of everybody!
The ARI kitchen brings us together in all our diverse flavors
This Cookbook will open the range of your creativity wider. It will give you better and more efficient uses of local ingredients to provide better food habits for your family and your community members at large. As you read and use this cookbook, let us continue to keep the ARI spirit of food self-sufficiency and sustainability, by recalling the times you cooked in the ARI kitchen!