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Students in 21G.012 Exploring Globalization through Chinese Food gathered for a hands-on cooking class in New House Country Kitchen on April 30.
Under the expert guidance of two visiting scholars in Global Studies and Languages, Wen-hui Tang from Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University and Qian Zhang from Beijing’s Music and Recording Art School of Communication University of China, the group of 16 students learned how to make traditional Chinese dumplings from scratch.
This activity was a culmination of the students’ work in this GSL exploratory subject, taught by Professor Emma J. Teng, which also included a Chinatown field trip and a tasting session of characteristic foods from the nearby Dumpling Daughter, founded by the daughter of one of Boston’s most famous Chinese restauranteurs. During this experiential learning activity, students collectively wrapped (then consumed) over 300 dumplings, with meat and vegetarian fillings. They finished the evening with coconut sticky rice with mango purée. Students thus experienced characteristic regional dishes from both the north and south of China.
A new exploratory subject, 21G.012 was conceived in order to introduce students to some of the central themes of cultural globalization through the case study of Chinese food. Through an exploration of the cuisine in the local Boston area, students are exposed to the topics of global trade, migration, transnational business and labor, the transnational dissemination of knowledge, and cultural production.
Readings and films for the class have included cookbooks, memoirs, reportage and documentaries, including this story written by a former MIT student. Students in the class have been blogging, and also worked in pairs on a Chinese menu project. Spanish concentrator Samira Okudo (Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science/Comparative Media Studies, Class of 2019) served as a TA for the class.
Visiting Scholars Wen-hui Tang and Qian Zhang noted how impressed they were with the students’ diligence at learning dumpling wrapping, and how quickly they developed their culinary skills.
This exploratory subject was funded in part by the Office of the Vice Chancellor.