November 7, 2007

The Best International Buffet in Town

(Is it me, or am I talking about food a lot lately?)

You know there are plenty of buffets in town, but today the social studies teacher hosted a huge cultural presentation and feast in the gym. Think 130 students, each one with a dish from his cultural. Homemade (in most cases), authentic, international cuisine. For a limited time, there was no better buffet anywhere in Vegas!

The students' presentations, which included country of origin of the food, a time line of the ingredients, the recipe with accompanying pictures, and some reflections on the importance of food in culture, were pretty well done. In fact, I found myself choosing my foods based on the presentations I saw. Of course, I was very interested in a traditional bread from Ethiopia, but I also saw a good presentation on beef jerky, too.

In the past, I've been excited about homemade tamales, but they weren't very good this year. Instead, my new obsession was for pupusas. It's been years since I had pupusas--and curtido. Yum! There was another cheese pocket kind of thing there, which I believe was Filipino, but I can't remember what it was called. In fact, it may have been the year of the pocket food because I had some good empanadas, too.

I skipped the ceviche, the barbecue rolls, and the potato salad in favor of chili colorado, some delicious but suspicious-looking rice pudding, and basically whatever food students forced me into trying: "Ms. HappyChyck, try mine!" (Needless to say, I don't need to eat for the rest of the week now.)

It's exciting to learn about and try so many different foods. I try to seem more worldly to my students, but you know, it's only been in the last decade or so that I've explored different foods, and that has happened largely though people I've known, the Food Network, and a little bit from traveling. I truly believe most students whose native foods I consider exotic or interesting would probably be just as intrigued by some of the foods I make although they seem quite basic to me. (Hey! What kind of potluck doesn't have any Jello?)

Some of the students didn't quite get the question they had to answer on their projects/presentations about the importance of food in a culture. Why not add questions about what happens when cultures come together? (Other than fusion cuisine.) I certainly hope our students had a little more insight into those concepts after today.

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