Updated: Feb 28
By Shivam Kumar, Georgia State University Master’s Graduate (2022) from India
“We’re not isolated as humans. We’re all connected. Food is something that connects us all. From nature to the farmer to the harvest and then the ritual of cooking – a long thread that connects all of us in the universe. It takes the whole universe energy to create a grain of rice.” – Anonymous
On January 22nd, 2023, I was invited by AMIS to a special event, “Food Connects Us All” at the home of AMIS volunteer, Susie Davidson. This was a lunch event where everyone was expected to bring a dish (like appetizer, entrée, side dish, dessert, etc) from their country and/or culture and to share it with fellow International students and American friends.
I, immediately, accepted the invitation because I knew, I wanted to do this. What can be more enriching than sharing our culture, through food? This event was an opportunity to also “present” the food item and talk about its significance and meaning to oneself. Perhaps it’s their mother’s, grandmother’s, or great-grandmother’s recipes, their favorite food, or comfort food! Food can hold a special place in a person’s heart. The thing I absolutely love about food is it's a common thread that connects us no matter what culture we come from.
I decided to make Dahi Vada and Veg Pulav for the event. Dahi Vada is a type of chaat (side dish/snack) that basically is deep-fried fritters dipped in yogurt and seasoned/topped
with cumin powder, red pepper powder, tamarind chutney, and chaat masala. I chose Dahi Vada because it’s one of the dishes that is prepared in every household during the spring festival of Holi in my state of Bihar. Veg Pulav is a classic rice item with veggies that is made in the majority of Indian households on almost every occasion.
At the event, I was surprised to see international students from 9 countries who participated with zeal and enthusiasm and brought food from their respective countries. After a brief informal presentation, all of us enjoyed the dishes from around the world while chit-chatting. Lastly, we gathered around the table to enjoy Galette des Rois (literally: "Cake of the Kings"). Traditionally a coin or trinket is hidden in the Galette and whoever finds it in their slice of the galette, is the king for a day wearing the gold paper crown. How cool!!
Think about some of your most cherished memories ; chances are, a lot of them involve food. There is almost always food involved in memory, whether it be sharing coffee and a muffin at a bakery, enjoying that really amazing dinner, cooking with someone you love, a holiday ritual, eating popcorn on the sofa with pals for movie night, or having friends over for a summer barbecue. That day, I created a fond memory to cherish and share with other friends. It’s the people that are the most important, but it’s food that helps connect us.
I’d like to thank Susie for being such a warm host and also to Nadeen who was the co-host. Lastly, I thank AMIS for organizing such great events for international students to promote culture and global understanding, and also to connect us with local friends in the American community.