When it’s not teaching us valuable facts about scary dinosaurs, Smithsonian Magazine is tugging at our heartstrings. This week, Laura Kiniry writes about Cooking as a First Language, “a nonprofit designed to break down cultural barriers over food.” The organization sponsors events all over the country in which community members gather to cook and eat meals together, sharing cultural culinary traditions with one another in the process. It’s not just a fun way get to know your neighbors over the course of an evening (though it is that); it’s an important counterpoint to the way we usually interact with people from other cultures, which tends to be in food service situations or other scenarios with an imbalanced power dynamic. These dining clubs put everyone in a “neutral space” to enjoy a shared love of food, and even pick up new recipes and cooking techniques along the way. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.
Whether it’s sushi classes or empanada tutorials, these activities amount to important work that never feels like work, and it’s worth reading the whole Smithsonian article to learn more about the mission of organizations like Cooking as a First Language and how to get involved yourself. In that spirit, we’d love to know what brings your community together. Maybe it’s something food-centric like a fish fry or pancake breakfast, or something decidedly less so, like a bicentennial Jebediah Springfield celebration. But whatever it is, it matters, and we should head into the long weekend celebrating it.