Science - June 17, 2004

Eco-cooking is fun and tastes good too

The eighteenth generation of MAKS students go regularly to the pub together, so the idea of doing an environment-friendly cooking course together also seemed like fun. Last Monday the course ended with the participants cooking a meal for their fellow students at Zeezicht to show off what they had learned.

The course, Urban cooking collective, was organised by the environmental organisation Jongeren Milieu Aktief (JMA). The aim was to introduce the participants to environment friendly cooking. “Using vegetables that are in season and local products are ways of reducing environmental costs. You also need to look at packaging and make sure you cook the right amount of food so you don’t have to throw away large amounts,” explains Lidewei, a member of JMA. From the point of view of environmental pollution, it is better to cook without meat as well.

Peter decided to do the course so he could learn how to cook more vegetarian dishes. He thought the course sounded so interesting that he asked fellow students and roommates if they wanted to do it as well. So Renze and Paul from the MAKS programme joined him, and Wb encountered them in the kitchen at the student restaurant Zeezicht crumbling feta cheese into a big pan of potato soup. “It’s fun making big meals together with a group of people,” declares Paul. They’ve learnt more about using fresh produce that is in season, and now know how to prepare celeriac, a vegetable they wouldn’t have bothered with before doing the course.

“And now I know how to clean leeks,” adds Karin. “You have to cut them open from below so you can get to all the parts. If you wash leeks after cutting them up, you lose more vitamins.” Karin, who is from South Africa, says that since doing the course she is less likely to buy vegetables that have been imported by air. And she’s learned some tasty recipes as well. “Pumpkin soup and a rhubarb dessert, wonderful.” For Adeline and Babette from France it was not only celeriac and rhubarb that were new; they were also introduced to garden cress. “I can also make speculaas now. To get it really crisp you have to let it dry on a wire rack. But the most important reason for coming was to have a nice evening with friends,” says Babette.

As a result of the course, Peter has a number of tasty vegetarian dishes that he make instead of just cooking without meat. The lesson he enjoyed most was when they had to cook for as little money as possible. His favourite meal is a plantain fritters with feta, a recipe he got from fellow student Edgar from Ecuador. Peter has already tried them out with his roommates, and last Monday they were on the menu as ‘Peter and Edgar’s balls’. Peter thinks he has become more environmentally aware as a result of the course: “Did you know that you can filter oil you use for deep-frying so you can use it again? And it’s better to use washable dishcloths instead of toilet- or kitchen paper!”

Yvonne de Hilster

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