Posted on April 28th
We love to talk about food
It’s always a great way to start a fun and interesting conversation. You can share about your most enjoyable dishes, your culinary skills, your culture, and what kind of food you prepare for special occasions. If you are with people from different places of the world, the conversation is even better. You can learn a lot about traditional dishes from around the world by talking with people who have grown up with a different food culture than your own. Start sharing!
For eight Wednesday evenings, participant of Intercambio, our language and cultural exchange program, gathered together at Scale to teach and practice speaking English, Spanish and Portuguese. Each evening, we would share about ourselves and our cultures as a fun way to practice. Once again, one of our favorites topics was food. We loved talking about food, and different tastes, aromas, and ingredients from Colombia, Portugal, Venezuela, Mexico, and the United States.
We talked about the difference between the food that immigrants have trouble finding in the Somerville area and usually eat at home. For instance, Mariana, who is from Brazil, told us that it’s not easy to find Brazilian meat or rice here, she usually buy jasmine rice instead. Balbina, who is from Mexico, has a hard time finding lechera (condensed milk) to cook her delicious flan. The same happens with the fresh ground corn that Isora needs to make cachapas “This time of the year it’s impossible to find” said Isora.
Favorite dishes from around the world
But the favorite question of all was not surprising. What’s your favorite dish? Find below a list of some of the favorites dishes of the Intercambio participants. I’m sure you’ll find a completely new plate that will make your mouth water. – Maria F. Martinez
It was created by the slaves during the colony times in Venezuela. They put the left-overs of their master’s Christmas festivities in a bit of cornmeal dough, wrapped this with banana leaves and cooked to mix the flavors. As many things in my country, the hallaca has the influence of three cultures, the white one (European ingredients like raisins, nuts and olives), the native one (the corn meal colored with annatto seeds), and the black one (banana leaves used to cook the food). Hallaca is a version of the corn tamal stuffed with a stew of beef, pork, and chicken, fish or other seafoods in some places.
Pan de Jamon
In Venezuela, this slightly sweet bread stuffed with ham, olives, and raisins is especially popular at Christmas time. The bread dough is rolled up around the fillings into a log, similar to the way cinnamon rolls are made. Once baked, the bread can be sliced into attractive spirals.
Barbacoa generally refers to meats or whole sheep slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground covered with maguey leaves, although the interpretation is loose, and in the present day (and in some cases) may refer to meat steamed until tender. This meat is known for its high fat content and strong flavor, often accompanied with onions and cilantro.
Bunche de Noel
Also named yule log, a bunche de noel is a traditional dessert served near Christmas, especially in Belgium, France, Quebec and several former French colonies. Made of sponge cake to resemble a miniature actual Yule log, it is a form of sweet roulade. It is a heavenly flourless chocolate cake rolled with chocolate whipped cream.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is part of the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration. It is a meal that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. It is unclear when the term “Feast of the Seven Fishes” was popularized. The meal may actually include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. Dinner began with whiting in lemon, followed by some version of clams or mussels in spaghetti, baccalà and onward to any number of other fish dishes without number.