You may know that one of the many benefits of City Market Membership is a discount on all of our in-person classes. In fact, if you attend just one City Market class per year, your Membership pays for itself! But our classes – and the participation of our Members – are more than just a chance to learn new cooking skills or explore new flavors. Whether they’re attending classes, teaching or coordinating, Members make our classes a place for our community to gather and share one of the most fundamental human experiences.
Recently, we spoke with Anna Mays, a City Market Member and a coordinator for our Mosaic of Flavor international cooking series to see what Membership means to her. Anna has coordinated the Mosaic of Flavor series, which we operate in partnership with the Vermont branch of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, for the past seven years.
What is your favorite thing about participating in City Market’s classes and coordinating our Mosaic of Flavor series?
There are so many things I love about City Market’s classes. Over the years I’ve taken classes on topics such as indoor salad gardening, baking with sourdough and ayurvedic cooking that have really influenced the way I work with food and how I teach my own cooking classes. But perhaps even more fun than learning new cooking techniques, is the community building that happens in the cooking classes. It’s wonderful to be able to meet community members outside our usual circles and share a meal together. Some of my closest friends in Burlington I originally met through City Market classes.
The Mosaic of Flavor series is a very special program and it’s been an honor to work with this partnership between City Market and USCRI-Vermont for the last seven years. My favorite things about coordinating the Mosaic of Flavor classes have been the opportunity to work with amazing cooks from diverse backgrounds and helping to provide a platform for our instructors to share their stories and recipes and for class participants to learn more about the New American communities in Vermont. Cooking can really bring us together and gives us a chance to bridge cultural and language differences to learn about our backgrounds and experiences in a fun and welcoming environment. The classes can also provide more visibility for our instructors’ food businesses and a chance to make friends and network with the wider community.
(Heike Meyer, bakeress at Brotbakery, and Anna Mays prepare for a French pastry class at Brotbakery; March, 2018)
What drew you to becoming a City Market member?
When I moved to Burlington, I was impressed by City Market’s commitment to supporting local growers and producers, to keeping affordable options on the shelves, and to education and community outreach through classes and member work in the wider community. The Bulk section where we can get such a diverse selection of grains, legumes and spices without packaging is a wonderful resource. I was also impressed by the discount for member workers, unlimited RO water, and small details like the kitchen happily sharing recipes for favorite hot bar dishes. The staff and Customer Service are always incredibly helpful and have been able to special order hard-to-find ingredients, often at short notice.
How do you feel City Market’s classes contribute to a stronger sense of community?
Community building is definitely a big part of our classes! It’s really fun to be able to meet people from different backgrounds through our shared common interest in food. Working together to prepare a meal, with an opportunity for questions and discussion (often it can be as simple as hearing three people talk about three different ways their mothers in different countries chopped onions) and then sitting down to share the meal together, fosters a real sense of community. It’s lovely to see people coming back to take classes multiple times and telling Mosaic instructors their families have enjoyed making their recipes. Online classes have also enabled participants from other states and even countries to tune in, including the extended families of Mosaic instructors—which has been really great.
(Mosaic instructor Martha Miebinge from Congo-Kinshasa teaches how to make cornmeal ugali during a Mosaic of Flavor class at the McClure Multigenerational Center; January, 2017)
City Market Members are working throughout our community to make all our lives richer, safer, and more connected. That’s the power of cooperation – when we join together, we can make a much bigger difference than when we act alone. We’d love for you to join us – you can learn more about City Market Membership and sign up here. You can find out more about our upcoming classes at our class calendar, including our upcoming Mosaic of Flavor livestream on November 11. Instructor Amin Shah from Afghanistan will be teaching us how to make Bangyan (eggplant curry) and Bamyan Kachalo (okra and potato stew). All donations raised from the Mosaic of Flavor series benefit the Vermont branch of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.