Explore Other Cultures this Summer – No Costumes Required

May's soup was delicious. True to form, though, we particularly loved the cheese wafers.

This summer, have your kids learn about the cuisine of other cultures without a single homework assignment.You don’t need to buy an ingredient, research a country, or make a costume. The work is done for you.

Coffeeology, the cafe in the Hoover Public Library, offers a Global Cuisine program all year round in addition to its regular menu of sandwiches, salads and soups. Global Cuisine features a different culture each month, with authentic dishes prepared by trained chefs who have already experimented  with the recipe (so that you don’t have to risk a new recipe fail at home).

Even the best teacher couldn’t do such a thorough job of delivering on a lesson plan. Each Global Cuisine menu includes several courses, so you can choose an entire meal or a simple dessert. While your meal is prepared, have the kids read the country-specific trivia being flashed on the screen behind the counter. Ooh! a stealth lesson even as they thought they were out of school! Gotcha.

The iced cookie, authentic enough for the pickiest eater

And if your kid is so picky even a Mexican burrito is too exotic for him, then he can’t object to Global Cuisine’s country flag cookies. Consider that this cookie enterprise would have meant several hours of baking for you as well as some Google flag research. If he pauses a moment to study the flag cookie before he devours it, he may even recognize the featured country at the next Olympic opening ceremony.

Coffeeology is in a library, so don’t expect the lesson to stop at the bakery counter. The Coffeeology staff provides a short presentation in The Plaza coinciding with it’s featured cuisine each month. If you’re there on a presentation Saturday, you can expect to see slides of the country, its history, indigenous crops, etc. (Before you think “yawn,” remember that this isn’t like being in a classroom. You can be eating the whole time.) Each presentation is followed by samples of food and coffee from the featured country.

You pay good money to read this stuff at Epcot in Disneyworld.

Finally, and this is the best part, get yourselves Global Cuisine Passports. They’re free and get stamped during each month you purchase from the Global Cuisine menu. Each stamp means an additional 10% discount for the following month’s purchase, up to 40% discount altogether. Like any real passport, the fun is in getting more stamps and reminiscing about your experience.

Hopefully you are already participating in the summer reading programs offered at each library branch through the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. Make the Hoover Public Library one of your stops for returning books and you can grab a globally flavored lunch or snack while you’re there. (By the way, have you seen the automated book return, a marvel for young kids? Or the silent booth, which unfortunately you cannot lock yourself into for the full day?)

Show the kids that there is more to global cuisine than the Chef Boyardee and ramen noodles in the home pantry.