Friday, May 1, 2009

Food brings a community together

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou… no wine was present, but Omar Khayyám had the right sentiment for CCV Burlington’s 9th Annual International Food Festival. Food is often the great equalizer. Through a family meal, a holiday celebration, or by breaking bread with people, we gather to share more than just sustenance; we meet to partake in each other’s lives.

The International Food Festival, or IFF, held in the Overlook Café on Wednesday evening (4/22/09)brought together more than only staff, faculty, and students of CCV. Students came with whole families in tow, including parents, children and grandparents. Others brought friends or partners. This tradition helps to make the world a bit smaller, focusing on the diversity of people who attend and work at the Chittenden County location of the college.

Students from India, Brazil, Canada, the Congo, Somalia, Egypt and Mongolia dined beside their friends. Families hailing from Somalia, Guatemala, and the Ukraine shared traditional dishes with Americans. Even people from the United States, on this night, focused on their ethnic origins. Food from different countries expanded tastes for the evening and with nearly 200 people attending, borders became non-existent.

Sushi, Nepalese Alu Dam, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and Korean Chap Chae competed for pride of place. Succulent Adobo Chicken, Polish Cauliflower Pie, and spicy Jambalaya all tempted comers to fill their plates. Dean of Enrollment Susan Henry was happy to serve for the evening. “When people walked in with the wonderful dishes they made, and could share their stories – they were glowing. They are so proud to share their heritage and food,” Henry said. Indeed, cultural norms beyond food were celebrated at the event, as well.

Traditional henna painting was offered, decorating feet and hands, and for one woman, stomach. At one point participants had the opportunity to learn an Israeli dance, thanks to CCV faculty member Annie Dunn-Watson and her musical partner Moshe Braner. Young women sported painted faces; children played and made crafts with people of all ages and ethnicities. As staff members served up the buffet, a community came together, one dish at a time.

Guest author: Karen Geiger (

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