Blog Post by Faras Al-Farsi

During summer sessions, Minnesota English Language Program (MELP) students visit different places in the Twin Cities for a cultural experience. The following blog post was written by Faras Al-Farsi about his experience with a cooking class and a visit to the St. Paul Farmers Market.

cooking class

The third week of the summer semester, MELP organized a cooking class and a trip to the Saint Paul farmers market. It was the first time MELP did this event, and it was different from previous ones. The class started when the instructor, Julie, introduced her two assistants, Valerie and Emily. The excitement was all over the students' faces. After all, who gets to see a live cooking class every day? Julie began to describe what she was going to teach us that day. Two delicious recipes were selected: Thai cucumber salad and bruschetta. Both would be made using fresh, local ingredients.

Julie and her assistants wanted volunteers so that the students could participate in making the dishes. They started with the cucumber salad. The student volunteers were very active in the process. The smell was everywhere. It was nice and refreshing. After they finished making the dish, the students had the chance to try it and give their opinion about it. All the students were satisfied with the dish. In fact, a lot of them asked for seconds!


After a short break, Julie and her assistants started to make the bruschetta. This dish was as delicious as the first one. The students were very lucky to have free lunch that day.

The final surprise was an indescribably delicious cake, baked by Julie. When the cake arrived, everyone was pleasantly surprised. After learning the ingredients and how to make the two dishes, the students had the chance to buy what they needed to make them at home, because the next day was the farmers market trip. It was a great opportunity to learn how to buy groceries with the locals. We took the light-rail to downtown Saint Paul with Emily and Julie. We learned a lot about how to buy vegetables, like what is good and what is not. Colorful flowers, roasted corn on the cob, jam jars, local honey and vegetables were all sold in the market, along with many other things. All the people walking around, with the morning breeze and cool sunlight, made an outstanding scene. The market has a very unique system that allows only farmers within 50 miles to sell their goods there, so everything was fresh and local. Another very noticeable thing is that all the vendors have their own prices. I asked one of the market staff about it and she said “that is their choice”. True, it is up to them to determine the price, but this is not what I am used to.

farmers market

Cooking class and the farmers market! I thought the combination was a strange idea, but no—it was a very successful event and the best way to end a long week—with food, of course!

Have fun, and don’t miss other MELP events. Summer is here!

This blog was written by Faras AL-Farsi.