Sharing Food, Sharing Culture

The Grandview Woodland Food Connection along with Flavours of Hope recently held a wonderful cross cultural food sharing event as part of the Sustenance Festival. We were joined by three amazing newcomer women – from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela who each shared  some of their favorite recipes and food stories. A full house, including a rich diversity of community members joined in the preparation of the food, followed by tasting the delicious food and story sharing.

The three women shared a little about the food they made and stories of their lives. The audience was invited to share their own stories. Some choose to write down some of their favorite food memories.

Cooking together reminds me when I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone and had no family here. It was through cooking together in community that I met me chosen family and have been able to contribute to changing the food system for the better – Steph Lim

When I was 4 years old, I wanted to show my mother how much I loved her and appreciate her. So I woke up before her and made the best breakfast ever. And for a 4 year old, that was pancakes. Unfortunately, I burned my arm in the process and my mom ended up making the pancakes. After this experience and many more, I learned how the true ingredient in food is love and how a meal can connect people – anonymous

My family does hot pot for Christmas with three boiling stocks going on two tables. Cousins sit and one and parent sit at another and each have their own set of pot rules – Serena

I really enjoyed today’s cooking, sharing food from different cultures. Some methods are very familiar in Punjab culture. Frying stuff and Middle Eastern deserts remind me of sweets that I am used to. maybe next time, I can participate in setting up a table for a Punjabi food dish – Manjit

The afternoon event was grounded in the theme of identity and belonging. For most of us, food contains so many memories of family dinners, picnics, places we ate, preparing food with friends, the taste and smell of familiar and favorite foods. But especially for those who have migrated or who have been displaced from home countries, food memories can be strong, connecting one to home and identity. This would be especially strong for women whose traditional role in many households was often centered on food and all the aspects that go along with this – growing, preparing, sharing, feeding, nourishing, etc. A Syrian refugee woman once said how she had lost most everything, even family members to the war, but the one thing she still has and which she can still share with family and community are her recipes. Food traditions and sharing gives her meaning and helps her connect with others. It is something that she can offer.

It was also wonderful to work with Flavors of Hope who have said, “every dish has a story”. What a beautiful saying that acknowledges the importance of food in our lives. Check out their work supporting newcomer and refugee women in building social enterprise and livable incomes that help build social connection and meaning through cooking and sharing culinary traditions and stories.