In seeking out ways to improve my Spanish and find interesting things to do with my time, I happily came across Escuela Tecnica Los Angeles. Run by Lina Perez in her home located near El Salvador’s University, the school offers various pastry classes. Of all the offerings, Panadería Salvadoreña, or Salvadoran Pastries, got me most excited. For three hours once a week, I’ve been attending Lina’s classes, listening to her clear instructions, checking with my Salvadoran classmates to make sure I got the details, and watching the transformation of a few recipes move from flour, sugar, eggs, and margarine to delightful goodies we get to take home to share with our families.
There are stressful moments for me. If I don’t happen to know what it is we’re making and I’m supposed to create it, I feel uncertain how to proceed. How can I create something if I don’t even know what it looks like? Usually once the ingredients have been divided up and laid before me I feel better. Lina is also there to help and answer questions. There are conversations about our personal lives, general themes, and sometimes incredibly obscure topics. I do my best to follow and can’t say I always understand. I do understand that my other classmates have their own moments of stress in the class and that they’re learning too. We fear making mistakes. We worry we won’t do it the right way. We struggle with having some previous experience in baking, doing things differently than the teacher, and none of us are experts. But we all have the desire to learn.
I am enjoying the process of learning through doing. I know I will leave each class with a new Spanish word or phrase, inspiration to bake more at home, and a little better appreciation of El Salvador’s culture and its people.
Scenes from last week’s class where we made
Pan Menudo, Masa de Pichardin, and Masa Chibola: