Bi-lingual Story Time: In the Kitchen
This past winter my family had the chance to visit Mexico. We all tried our best to brush up on our Spanish language skills before we left. We did OK, but I think we'll need more work if we plan to return. Spanish skills aren't just helpful when traveling; they're useful here at home, too. To make it fun for everyone I came up with a plan: we have bi-lingual snack time. My son's favorite part of the trip wasn't the beach or the theme park we visited, but the food! And it's no wonder. Mexico has some of the best dishes of any place on the map. Who wouldn't love frozen fruit pops (paletas), creamy rice pudding(arroz con leche) or fresh warm tortillas?
Luckily, Anythink has a great collection of of bilingual stories. We needed to start with the simple stories like The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos. It's a brightly illustrated story a little like "The Little Red Hen" but one in which everyone helps and gets to share the tasty arroz con leche at the end. Readers learn the Spanish vocabulary for all the farm animals, as well as many other words. At the end of the book there is a recipe for the rice pudding the farm maiden makes for you to make at home. Another bright, fun and simple story is What Can You Do With a Paleta? Our version of this book is primarily in English with a few Spanish words throughout, but I enjoyed it so much (and I also enjoy paletas enough) that I thought it ought to be included in this collection. To make your own paletas this summer, check out Fany Gerson's book Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Auguas Frescas.
If your Spanish skills are a little beyond mine, you might enjoy a few more complicated stories. My foodie favorites are The First Tortilla by Rudolfo Anaya and Arroz con Leche: Un Poema Para Cocinar by Jorge Argueta. Both books are written in both English and in Spanish. Neither of these books contain recipes, but if Mexican cooking has caught your fancy, I highly reccomend Rick Bayless' book Authentic Mexican. Try his tomitillo salsa and homemade horchata. They are both make regular apperances at my house.
Getting the kids to help in the kitchen is a great opportunity for learning and fun. Do you have a favorite Mexican dish or something else you enjoy cooking with the kids?