‘There’s more to unite cultures than what divides them’

November 10, 2014

Culinary spread

SLAVIC CUISINE: Members of the Czech and Slovak community at Winton international evening show with some of their traditional dishes. Picture by Lenka Daisy.

 

Out of Africa

OUT OF AFRICA: Folks from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana sing a joint effort of South Africa’s anthem, Nkosi Sikolel.

 

Czech songs

MAKING MELODIES: The Slovak and Czech community, including Lenka and Betka  sing one of their traditional songs to everyone.

 

Brazil nuts

LATIN FASHION: The Brazilian contingent at the international evening. They served up some delicious food as well as being the best dressed.

 

Flag bearer

CZECH MATE: In a split second, I had this flag put in my hand and in a flash, here is the outcome. Picture by Lenka Daisy.

 

A BOURNEMOUTH church hosted an international evening of food and song representing 11 countries and four continents.

The evening was hosted by pastor Daniel Thompson and his American wife at the town’s Seventh Day Adventist Church in Alma Road, Winton.

For me it was a first proper visit to this part of Bournemouth and suffice to say (sorry Bournemouth fans), I don’t make many visits there if I can help it, I was pleasantly surprised by this area. Certainly there is a vibrant community there as this event proved.

Culinary delights were lovingly prepared and served up on tables with flags and the folks from those countries. They included Brazil, Slovakia and the Czech Republic (a combined effort), Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, a Polish lady and her family and of course, the United Kingdom, specifically England.

Having been over the Czech Republic and Slovakia to stay with friends in the past five years, some of traditional food on their tables looked very familiar to me – particularly the poppy seed cake ( Moravský koláč), Kofola (Slovak coke), Hotovo cakes, potato pancakes (zemiakové placky), meat balls (fašírky) and potato salad (zemiakový šalát).

There was a gentleman from Zimbabwe (I hope he forgives me as I can’t remember his name) who showed a table of staple food from there. I was confronted by a bowl of anchovies and immediately thought of the fish as it Is land-locked. He told me they are a delicacy collected in the rivers.

I recalled a party I was invited in my time in Cambridge with a friend of mine from Ghana called Emmanuel in the mid-1990s. The creole chicken served up was very hot (chillis added) and I was on the water for at least half an hour after consumption. West Africa tends to go for the hot options but Zimbabweans prefer milder seasoning.

When we sang some songs from national perspectives, the English contingent – with the honourable exception of some – were not familiar with the words of Land of Hope and Glory, except for the chorus.

Daniel’s wife as the token US national was asked whether she would sing the Star Spangled Banner but everyone hummed it back to her and I think she was touched.

The African contingent of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and another country (who am I afraid to say I don’t remember) did a rendition of the South African anthem Nkosi Sikelel in four different languages but it came across with gusto and vibrancy.

There were some interesting Brazilian dishes bringing some unique Latin flavours to the hall, and these included passion fruit mousse, Brigadeiro (Brazilian chocolate bonbons) and deep-fried cassava, their substitute for French fries.

The teams voted that the Czech/Slovak group and the South African tables jointly had the best food and Brazil were the best dressed.

A couple of young people and a senior citizen gave a practical demonstration of hand bell ringing. The handbells are made from traditional clapper heads and handles, and have the ability to produce overtones. The narrator of this post, Mr Bell, unfortunately, was not available to ring them.

If I can make a conclusion about this evening of cultural exchange and if you are reading this and are of a shy disposition when meeting folks from other countries, take a chance by speaking an odd phrase in another language or remembering if you have paid a visit to their country before and relating it, is a game changer. Always concentrate on anything that unites us, rather than what divides. This may be a Biblical analogy, but it always works.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Atkin November 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Hello Everyone,

I really love what you are doing, I believe in global unity and I think it’s amazing…i love meeting new nationalities, singing and good food…awesome…i hope i can come along some time and meet you lovely kind people 🙂

Many blessings and hugs Jim xxx

PS. nice photos and writing Lenka

Reply

alzbeta November 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

Thank u Matthew for lovely article. We had a brilliant evening. Hope we can repeat the event.

Reply

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