Peet students explore Thai cooking during Tiger Time

Throughout the year, Peet Junior High has offered a variety of Tiger Time enrichments, from paper roller coasters to study halls, and this month, Thai cooking. 

The enrichment, offered by science teacher Jeff Hartman and family and consumer sciences teacher Sue Rea, gave students an opportunity throughout March to cook foods they may have never tried before. Such a large number of students signed up for the enrichment that most only attended one session, which took place Fridays in the foods and nutrition classroom during Tiger Time.

The idea for the enrichment was different from any others offered so far this year, and was rooted in Hartman’s time teaching in Thailand. “I lived and taught in Bangkok, Thailand for two years and I fell in love with Thai food. My wife and I still cook a lot of Thai food at home, and I thought it would be fun to do a cooking class at school and teach some students how to cook a couple of Thai dishes. Mrs. Rea was great and agreed to help me conduct the class,” he said.

During each session, students were instructed on how to cook and assemble Thai green curry in small groups and given the chance to sample their dishes once they had been completed. Many students, including freshman Jay Taylor, used the enrichment as an opportunity to expand their cooking abilities and diversify their palettes. “I didn’t know anything beforehand, but I learned a lot, and have applied the techniques [from the enrichment] to my cooking normally,” he said. Other students joined the enrichment simply for a chance to take a break from schoolwork and bond with their friends. “I signed up for [the enrichment] because I enjoy cooking and wanted to eat good food during the school day,” freshman Michaella Koinzan said. “My favorite part was adding all the ingredients with my friends.”  

A majority of students had little knowledge of Thai food before the enrichment, so it offered them an opportunity to learn more about foods they may not have tried otherwise. “I had some Thai dishes previously but only vaguely knew the flavor profile of some dishes,” Koinzan said. Even the teachers got a chance to learn more about the subject, with Hartman saying, “My wife is a great cook and she taught me how to make the green curry ahead of time so that I could teach the students. I learned a lot from Mrs. Rea about how to conduct a cooking class. She was a huge help,” and adding that he would love to do the enrichment again.

Freshman Katelynn Eastman also said she loved the experience despite only getting one chance to cook. “I didn’t eat the actual food because it had chicken, but I did get to try a very spicy pepper, and I know now [Thai food] is delicious. [The enrichment] was very fun.”

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