Tag Archives: slow food

how pizza came to queens

I recently came across this multimedia composition by the New Yorker artist and children’s book author Maira Kahlman: And The Pursuit of Happiness. I’ve described it as the perfect anthem for my Digital Media Literacy Slow Food Movement Movement.

Ultimately, Kahlman believes a democracy would insure access to nutritious foods for all. Our democratic ideals would be reflected in our ability to appreciate where that food comes from and the degree to which we take the time to enjoy meals together. Slowly.

I knew Kahlman first as the creator of wildly colorful and uniquely lettered children’s books like “Hey Willy See the Pyramids” and “Sayonara Mrs. Kackleman.” I thought she was also the author of “How Pizza Came to Queens,” which was¬† published at around the time of those early Kahlman books.

Turns out I was wrong.

Dayal Kaur Khalsa, the actual author of “How Pizza Came to Queens,” created a beautiful tale that captured my adult imagination. As a kid who grew up in Queens and who ate a LOT of pizza, I was astounded by the overlooked obvious notion that some idenitifiable individual could be responsible for introducing an iconic food into our culture. It helped that the story was also beautiful and colorful.

I loved that the main character, Mrs. Pelligrini, given the chance, unrolls her prized rollling pin just before making pizza with the two children in the story. It reminded me of the display cases at the Ellis Island museum in which what immigrants brought with them is showcased. In many instances those making the long arduous journey to this country carried with them cooking utensils. Will they have samovars? How will will I find the right cast-iron pots? I cannot part with my rolling pin! I imagine the would-be immigrants saying to themselves as they choose what to bring and what to leave behind.

These cooking utensils provided the means for meeting basic survival needs, yes. But they also represented the transplanting of culture, the underpinnings of new communities, the beginning of a reshaping of the country in which they would land.

Until pizza could become so ubiquitous and readily available that a Korean-American kid from Queens would find it unimaginable that it was ever different.

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slow-cial networks

During a run through Riverside Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan yesterday, I noticed a community garden.

An older man tended flowers hanging on until the first freeze. Two women – sisters? mother-daughter? – shot pictures of each other among the fading blooms.

This particular community garden is a slice of green in a sliver of a park in one of the busiest cities in the world. A city that purportedly never sleeps. An information nexus.

The tableaux represents what I wish I had been able to accomplish as a teacher and what I fear is becoming even more challenging in classrooms: providing students with opportunities to become digitally literate and engaged citizens of the 21st century – to navigate busy crowded spaces – while also elevating the importance of smelling the roses. Of knowing where to find roses to smell. Of knowing how to grow roses. Of growing roses.

My friend Allan Hoffman talks about “distracted living” – the inability to focus on enjoying the moment and understanding the critical importance of our human, social networks, as we embrace the power of our online versions.

I feel lucky in that many of the teachers I follow on twitter: Bud Hunt, Troy Hicks, Peter Kittle, and many many other colleagues also live this duality. I see pictures of them with their children at the playground or after anti-hunger road races and am reminded to force myself to become unwired, too.

In fact, I would argue that they’re successful as disseminators of information about social media because they’re willing and able to engage with a wide range of people. Because they appreciate the offline moments.

Robert D. Putnam wrote the seminal book, “Bowling Alone,” about the ways in which our current cultural state can atomize and isolate us.

The health of a community’s bowling leagues, he argued, was a good indicator of its social capital. I’m sure community gardens are also a signal of healthy social capital.

If we can incorporate bowling leagues, community gardens, front porches, with our online communities, so that both not only co-exist peacefully but share an exalted place in our lives, then I’ll know that we’ve succeeded in constructing what I call “slow-cial networks.”

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Filed under digital literacies, education, running