A Taste of the South

May 1, 2011
By Anonymous

My card is faced down, the red side showing. The fast pace stir of the restaurant comes to a cease around me, but continues with full force throughout the establishment. I relish in the culture as I take a bite out of a “pão de queijo”, the Brazilian equivalent to cheese bread. The squishy texture satisfies my mouth as I ponder. I may still be in the United States, but the smell of the food roasting and the sound of the delicate accents bring me to a place I have never been before: South America.

I’m not a typical Midwesterner whose idea of an ‘authentic Mexican meal’ is Taco Bell. Ever since I’ve been young my horizons have been spread to acknowledge multiple cultures and how they eat. Food is something I enjoy, and so is learning about different countries; so why not mix the two? My parents exposed me to foods from around the country at a young age, and by age 10 we had exchange students living with us that exposed me to even more. They would cook traditional dishes and open our eyes to local restaurants with authentic food from around the globe.

When given the dreaded ‘first day of school surveys’ asking us about our siblings’ names or favorite sport, I would always put down extravagant dishes under the ‘favorite food’ section. Instead of the regular spaghetti answer, I would respond with spaghetti a la carbonata, leaving the class in a confused state on what I was being fed at home.

The food was not the only thing enticing me into other cultures; I loved learning about language, by fifth grade I was attending a German summer camp, and by eighth I was enrolled in German I. Traveling was also a hobby that drew me into the array of cultures. The most memorable moments ranged from strolling through a bustling fish market just as the daily catch came in, to climbing to the top of a windmill and looking over the vast countryside.

Each year brought new students from different countries into our home. All of the students up until I was fourteen were from Europe. I wanted to try something new so I decided upon Brazil for the next student. It seemed exotic and mysterious, just the place I’d like to visit someday; new culture, new food, new traditions. Most cultures have a prominent language barrier when associating with each other, but one doesn’t need language to communicate; you communicate by the teaching of tradition and celebration.

I returned back from my reminiscent memory and flipped the card over to show the green side. The aroma from the variety of food wafted towards me, and I became hungry once again. A waiter came over and offered me a Portuguese sausage; I accepted. As waiter upon waiter offered me a part of the smorgasbord of food they offered, I grew content with the fact that I have a growing and diverse family, from all around the world.

The author's comments:
My exchange student Melina (Mel) influenced this piece. She introduced me to the vibrant and rich foods of Brazil. Also inspired by Christin, Lisa, Elena, Valeria, Annie, Chiara, and soon to be Sophie. Thank you to my parents for bringing me to so many amazing places.

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