Festival of Cultures

Our kids’ school has something like 60+ nationalities represented in its student body, with over 30+ spoken languages.  Know what that means!


Or the “Festival of Cultures,” as the PTA calls it.  But really — it’s about the food.  Momos, Hawaiian barbecue, arroz con leche, sushi, samosas, and whatever the heck that weird Korean candy was: all there for the tasting.  I walked around in a daze thinking, why on earth did I eat dinner before coming here?

It’s just like Salt Lake’s Living Traditions festival — but all the food was free!  I could just weep.  WEEP!  In these pictures, my kids aren’t smiling because their cheeks are stuffed.  Really.

Festival of Cultures

I volunteered to help with the “Germany” table.  Know what my food contribution was?  PRETZELS.  Because I’m guessing that nobody wanted any fresh sauerkraut.  Call it lame, but every picky eater in the building that night was very, very glad to see that bowl of pretzels.  Didn’t take home a single leftover.

I also brought the propeller-spinny thing (it’s called a wienachts-pyramide) and the Grimm bros. fairytales.  Because, you know, culture.

Although if I had known in advance that the Korean table would be pumping “Gangnam Style” in an endless loop, then I might have brought Beethoven.  Maybe.


But in truth, I must admit that, in the grand global sweep of the room, the Germany table couldn’t hold a candle to the other tables.  I mean, who on earth can compete with Mexico?


Well, I’ll tell you who can compete:  ERITREA.  What you are seeing below is a traditional East African coffee ceremony, compete with beans roasted over a live flame (nearly setting off the fire alarm) then hand-ground and brewed in a special ceramic flask.  It smelled so, so good.  An Eritrean woman stood beside me and murmured, “Back there, we used to do this every day, usually twice a day.”  I couldn’t tell if she was nostalgic or relieved.  Anyway: injera.  Plus four kinds of stew to go on top.  I’m not even kidding.  Where on earth did they find the teff flour?!?


5 thoughts on “Festival of Cultures

  1. That looks so much better that the food festival at Z’s school! Theirs is heavy on the European countries and the Mexico table has nothing but nachos if I don’t bring something… How fun!

    1. I’m assuming that whatever you brought for the Mexico table pretty much blew nachos away. When I was in Girl Scouts, our council would have an annual “international culture” celebration, and for a few years my troop leader was Mexican-American, so we always signed up to represent Mexico. But know what our leader would have us bring for the food table? NACHOS. What is up with the stinkin’ nachos?? And I didn’t even like nachos when I was a kid.

  2. Hallelujah for all your wonderful posts! It’s like rain after a drought. I’m so going to Seattle next year during World Culture week. How do you get around that “only bringing prepackaged foods for health reasons” law…or is that only a Utah thing?

    1. The rules in my school district are even stricter — no food in classrooms, period (except lunches, of course). Kids aren’t allowed to bring any gifts for birthdays, either (it was becoming a status symbol problem) which is something I’m REALLY happy about.

      The Festival of Cultures is held in the evening as a PTA event, so it isn’t technically run by the school, although it’s obviously a partner.

  3. That’s awesome! Today June brought home a Martin Luther King hand out and said in dismay, “I only have white friends.” We need more culture here!

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