My children attend public school in New York state, not too far from New York City, so it shouldn’t surprise me that we have a diverse student body. But when we sent out a survey asking where the parents of the students were born, we heard of 35 different countries! We sent the survey as part of something we call International Day-every other year we dedicate a whole Saturday to celebrating foods and cultures from around the globe. We wanted to make sure as many countries as possible were represented, so we sent out the survey and then of course asked the parents to volunteer on International Day to cook and serve foods from their native lands or ancestry. The response has been phenomenal.
This year I am on the committee and wanted to step things up a bit so I am adding a performance element. I asked around, informally, to see if any of the students were studying any dances or other traditional practices from their heritages. I was excited to have a few kids step up and volunteer to perform. I have three girls who will perform Irish Step dancing, one girl will do a karate demonstration, one child will perform a Peruvian dance, another will perform Kathak, and Indian dance, and then we have a few singers and a ballroom dance troupe. It will be a great day!
I initially thought I would make typical Sicilian food, being that my parents are both from Sicily. However, we had a few other Italian tables and since my fellow blogger, Louisa Shafia, had just come out with her book on Persian cooking, I volunteered her to come and man a table featuring this food. I guess I shouldn’t have signed her up without asking first because as it turns out, she will be in San Francisco! I had gotten the community kind of excited for this, so I am going to brave it alone and make a few recipes from her book. I am nervous because this is not a food I have made too often before and the various sour flavors don’t come naturally to me or my palate. However, I love this food and am excited to stretch my abilities by trying something new. If you are interested in what I might make, check out the page we launched for Louisa here.
Additionally, we decided to make a “Recipe and Memory” book. This is not just a cookbook, but a book of family recipes, submitted by the students’ parents, but also stories of immigration or memories of ancestors. The book was not terribly hard to assemble-I just had everyone send me the recipes and stories, I edited them a bit and then compiled them into a large Word document that I will bring to a printer to print. We will use it as a fundraiser, but the point of it is much more about sharing a very personal side of our community with each other and others.
Here are some recipes that I will be contributing or making myself:
Sicilian Rice Balls also called Arancini are a great dish to make for a crowd.
Chocolate Cardamom Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream is from Louisa’s new book on Persian cooking. I plan to make these into mini cupcakes for easy eating.
Mexican Wedding Cakes are little almond-anise cookies that are super delicious and easy to serve
What would you make if you had International Day at your school?
Rosemary Maggiore is our Last Minute Lady. A single mom of two kids plus a full time job (she runs this website!) keep her busy and usually pushing things to the last minute. Somehow she manages to keep her cool and her sanity while she enjoys good food, wine, friends and most importantly, family.
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