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Week of 3 April 1998

Vol. I, No. 26

Feature Article

Cooking up Chinese culture

Helen Chen

Twenty-five Abington, Mass., sixth graders came to Boston University recently to learn about Ancient China, but not in the department of history. The 12-year-olds attended one of a series of "Cooking Up Culture" classes at the Office of Special Programs, which teach children about a country's culture through its food and culinary customs. The first three classes of the semester, on Ancient China, were taught by Helen Chen (at left with class), daughter of the late Joyce Chen. After a lecture on the country's culture and cuisine, she introduced the children to a range of common and unusual Chinese foods and ingredients that they could touch and taste, some of which were then used in two cookery demonstrations. Future classes will feature the cultures of Switzerland, Brazil, Norway, and Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.

The classes were started in Abington by Beverly Anderson Alexandre, head of the nonprofit Anderson Foundation, and became so popular that she sought Boston University's help in delivering the programs in 1996. The number of classes taught has grown steadily, leading the Office of Special Programs to decide to supplement the Anderson Foundation's sponsorship with proceeds from the Pierre Franey Memorial Fund. Photo by Fred Sway