Cultural & Potluck Event this Saturday
M.B. Johnson Park, Moorhead- September 24th, 2022 11:00am-2:00pm
Join us this Saturday at 11 am for a family friendly cultural event where you'll have the opportunity to learn more about us and our future plans, talk to a diverse array of community leaders and members of the Multicultural Alliance, and taste delicious food prepared by our Somali, Iraqi, Kurdish and Liberian friends from the area.
Food unites us
Is there anything more Midwestern than a potluck? When I came here from the Dominican Republic, that was my first experience of this area's hospitality and long tradition of inviting family and friends to have a taste of their cooking, warming hearts in the process. Food becomes a vehicle to show the world that we care, and a way to participate in a collective activity that brings out the best that the community has to offer, and helps its members connect to each other.
Potlucks, the sharing of food among people, creates friendships. We might be different, but we all have this in common- we all need to eat, and we all need to connect to others. Potlucks offer the opportunity to do both.
Food as a way to learn about cultures
Every culture has turned a basic need, eating, into a way to show the world their particular way of experiencing the world. Every single one of them found a way of using the resources from their particular corner of the world to come up with dishes and flavors that are unique to that particular culture. By tasting these dishes, we learn more about the individuals from these cultures, what they like- and in some cases, the struggles they've had throughout history.
Food tells a story of abundance, or scarcity- depending on the culture. It tells a story of struggle, of triumph over the elements, of creativity. Dishes have been passed down the line, sometimes for generations, because they help us remember our ancestors, and in a way connects us to those that made possible for us to be here now.
By sharing our food with people of other cultures, we show them a glimpse into our lives, our families, what we enjoy. Trying and enjoying the food we are not used to, or didn't see growing up, opens our minds to new experiences, and new connections. When we gather, and share each other's dishes- we share more than just food, we share ourselves.
Come one, come all
One thing I enjoy about potlucks is that they accommodate everyone. There's an air of informality, a feeling of open arms. Of friendship. Happiness. Relaxation.
When eating, people tend to lower their walls, and talk to each other. They share stories about the dishes, where they came from, their families. Food becomes a way of connecting to someone that would otherwise not seem to have anything in common with us.
Some of my fondest memories are of sitting around a picnic table, sharing food with strangers that by the end of that meal became friends.
Some of those times I tried new food I had never seen, let alone tasted. I've liked most of them, with a few exceptions. That's how I learned that sometimes a salad is a dessert, with marshmallows and whipped cream, and fruit. And that my mother's cooking tastes like Kurdish food. Sometimes those dishes were very familiar, and they brought memories of childhood, of my mother or grandmother and the smell of their cooking. Sometimes they made me wish for traveling to the far away places I could taste on my plate. Every time I learned something, either about myself- or about others.
Gathering and sharing food with each other, a simple activity that has been done since the beginning of our time as humans, still brings that sense of unity and community we all need. How we gather might change, and the food might change as well- but the feelings we are left with, the sense of belonging these gatherings foster, don't change. When we share food, we stop being strangers and begin to become a community.