Chris Hawthorne and Jeannie Pierola don't appear to have anything in common. He's a poet-farmer at Sweetwater Organic Farm and she's the lauded chef at Edison: Food + Drink Lab.
But they share something, and that's evident the minute they begin to talk about what they do. They've got a passion for food. And though they show it in different ways — he as an education guide at the 6-acre urban farm and she as the guiding force behind some of the city's most creative food — they see eye to eye on many things. Respect for the sustenance the earth provides is just one.
Hawthorne and Pierola were two of about a dozen people who shared their foodways expertise for a class called "Food Fights" at the University of Tampa. In a two-week intensive course, May 13 to 24, English professors Kacy Tillman and Bill Doyle taught nine UT students that a nasturtium bloom tastes like a mouthful of wasabi and that a dill pickle-flavored potato chip could inspire a chef to develop a dish fit for fine dining. Students participated in a cooking class at the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon, learned about hydroponic farming at Urban Oasis and stocked shelves at Feeding America Tampa Bay, among other activities. They Skyped with food bloggers and visited Ybor City for a lesson on local food history. Food, Inc. and Super Size Me were among the movies they watched.