Learn to cook in a stranger’s kitchen
The cuisines of New York City are the cuisines of the world. Not because of some kind of American culinary imperialism but because it is a city made up of immigrants. Over the generations families tend to stick to the cooking of the countries of their forebears, which is why in New York you can find the most authentic examples of ethnic food, cooked not for tourists but for family, friends and community.
There is a way to not only sample the various cuisines of New York but to learn how to cook them as well – not in restaurants or cookery schools but in the homes of members of those communities.
The League of Kitchens was launched four years ago with a novel proposition: people from a variety of immigrant communities would open the doors of their homes to teach, in their own kitchens, their cookery and culture. The scheme has been so successful that another one is being set up in Los Angeles.
One thing that helped to popularise League of Kitchens even further was a segment on Stephen Colbert’s TV show in which he visited the home of an Indian lady and learned to cook her dishes. Here’s the video of that little escapade. It has also been extensively covered in the press. Here’s one review of an Argentinian experience.
League of Kitchens offers two grades of experience: ‘Taste of’ and ‘Immersion’ classes. The former is about 2½ hours and the latter takes you on a 5 ½ -hour culinary journey. For about $125 and $190 respectively, you get hands-on cooking instruction, a shared meal, a booklet of recipes and detailed guidance on where to get the best ingredients.
The classes take place mostly in Brooklyn and Queens and the main cuisine types are Bengali, Indian, Argentinian, Nepali, Lebanese, Greek and Uzbek. League of Kitchens offers immigrant cooks cash and confidence, and offers visitors the tastiest possible way to connect with one or more of Queens’ and Brooklyn’s many cultures.