What do you most look forward to when traveling? For me, it’s the local cuisine. From the minute I arrive somewhere, I’m searching for the food. You can consider me a foodie. I love trying the flavors of the world. The flavors that the people of the world put into their food. Food gatherings are something that I grew up with. We always cooked up a storm every weekend for our family and the many guests that came by. It was a tradition.
A New Tradition, With a Bit of the Old Tradition
I decided to keep that tradition alive. I frequently invite guests and cook up a fleet of food. But this time, I did something different. I invited over a group of expats who live in the Netherlands as I do. They are all from many different countries. I invited them to cook their own food and share it with all of us. It was a multicultural food sharing gathering.
Moving to a new country is hard on everyone, especially when people are used to having comforts such as friends, family, and food around. This was an evening to bring a little bit of home and a little bit of newness to everyone. I think everyone left with a warm feeling in their heart and a full stomach.
Everyone Who Came
The group consisted of 6 people. Myself, I’m a first-generation American born to Russian and Belorussian parents. My boyfriend who’s Dutch. A woman from China. A woman from Mexico who was born in America but raised in Mexico. A woman from Hungary. And a woman who had double nationalities, Ukrainian and Bulgarian.
Instead of sharing a Russian dish with everyone, I choose to show my Jewish culture. So I baked challah and made hummus. Challah is a Jewish braided bread traditionally baked for the Sabbath and holidays. Hummus is a chickpea dip.
My boyfriend shared his culture by drinking beer, of course. What else can a Dutch beer lover possibly share?
The woman from China surprised me by making risotto. Why was I surprised, you ask? Well, risotto isn’t a Chinese dish, it’s from northern Italy. Risotto is a creamy rice dish made with broth and other ingredients. It was delicious. Risotto isn’t something I frequently eat, so I was very happy.
The Mexican-American woman made the dish that was the most memorable. She made enchiladas. An enchilada is made by filling a tortilla with some sort of protein or veggies, rolling it, and then covering it in sauce and cheese, finishing it off with veggies such as avocado as garnishes. The enchiladas were a cheesy delicious delight.
What is Hungary know for? Goulash, stuffed cabbage leaves, and amazing tortes. Well, the Hungarian woman didn’t make any of those. She went for couscous. Couscous is a Mediterranean grain. She cooked as you would cook rice, and added veggies and cheese to it, making a salad out of the couscous. It was quite an impressive showing learning other’s cultures.
Taste of Childhood
The dish that reminded me of my childhood were blini: Slavic pancakes. The Ukrainian Bulgarian woman brought the wonderful taste of childhood to me. The easiest way to explain blini is a thin flat pancake a little thicker than a French crepe. All you have to do, is take this wonderful pancake, slather it with jam, honey, or really whatever you’d like, and dig in. It can also be eaten rolled. I ate a lot of blini growing up. It felt so good to eat blini again.
The dinner was quite an eye-opener for me. I expected everyone to cook something of their culture, but I was pleasantly surprised that people also shared the food they learned from other cultures. It was a beautiful evening of sharing wine, good food, and tidbits of our lives. I will definitely host one again. I highly recommend you bring people together to try each other’s food. It’s a great way to make new friends and learn about the cultures of the world.
What is your favorite cuisine?