Food is the gateway to community, culture, and big time inspiration. ELC Boston hosted an International Potluck on May 22, 2015 with the goal of creating new experiences and celebrating individual contributions. Each participating student and staff member was responsible for bringing a dish from his or her culture to the meal. As the day started, students meticulously prepared their dishes: the pasta had to be the perfect temperature for the sun-dried tomatoes and the fruit müesli had to be mixed together at the right moment for optimum flavor. It became clear that this food not only represented students’ nationalities, but who they are as individuals.
As people gathered around the buffet, plates were packed with a smorgasbord of varied food. Amidst the hungry bellies rumbling, one could hear stories being told of how to best eat onigiri, the salty and savory Japanese rice balls that are commonly found in bento boxes. Others mentioned how their pasta dish from Italy reminded them of childhood meals with their family. One student brought homemade Cachupa di Cabo from his mother’s kitchen. Cachupa di Cabo is a traditional slow-boiled stew from Cape Verde. It can take up to four hours until it is perfect!
A few Saudi Arabian students settled into a circular position on the floor, a perfect formation for food sharing. In the center of them they had placed the famous rice dish known in Arabic as kabsa and using their right hand only, they indulged in the cardamom and saffron infused rice. It was not long before other students joined them, some eating with their hand for the first time.
Our meal was filled with memories from all over the world, as students translated their recipes and narratives into English. If we are what we eat, then on this day we were an international group of people who shared our stories, histories, and memories with one another. It gives new meaning to leaving full.