We continued talking about cumin for awhile, two participants shared that they love cumin, and one woman shared that in traditional Mexican cuisine, cumin is used often in the north, but not in the south. I agreed with Laura that cumin can be overpowering and told her, “Well, most of today’s recipes happen to feature cumin, and in fact I had planned to give you all a lesson in cumin! Are you open to having any cumin in the food or do we need to make two batches of the dishes?” She said that a little cumin would be all right and the other students agreed to this adjustment.
"And now you know the secret," I beamed. "When you go to an Indian restaurant, ask the waiter to ask the chef whether the cumin in the spice blends have raw or roasted cumin. If raw, you can specifically request that the chef roast the cumin in your dishes."
Laura took this information in, eyes unblinking. "Now I can go to Indian restaurants with my family in San Fransisco and I don’t have to bring my own food!” She proclaimed.
Of course Laura’s turnaround was gratifying to me as a teacher: because of the class and what she had learned about how to use cumin, she had a different experience and opinion about the cuisine. Laura had received a gift by coming to the class. But I had received a gift as well: I was surprised that not liking the cuisine she chose to come to the class. How many people would do that? I can’t imagine I would. And what a lesson: by immersing herself in something she didn’t like, she learned, gave herself the chance of a new and different experience, and through her bravery and openness, emerged liking the very thing she had arrived disdaining.
Now there’s food for thought.