By Alissa Sandoval
I lived in Haiti for 8 months after college. Immersing yourself in a different culture is exhilarating - I thrived on the challenge of trying new foods and learning a new language. What was most fascinating to me about Haitian culture, was the purpose behind their daily details. Specifically, in the food they made. Food has deep meaning on this island; there was appreciation and value behind each bite.
Haiti isn’t the only place with dishes that hold deeper meaning. Several countries have meals infused with traditions - not just spices. You can make them too! Take a look at these 5 meaningful dishes enjoyed around the world for some inspiration.
Women learn to cook nutritious meals for their children and families in World Vision classes. When babies get weak, World Vision has a program that saves their lives. This one, called PD Hearth, is a strategy used by offices such as World Vision Uganda that teaches moms to save children who are not thriving. World Vision-trained Village Health Team members know about this program and refer moms and children.
Also known as pumpkin soup, this is the soup of Haiti’s independence. Every year, Haitians prepare this soup to remember their independence day: January 1, 1804. Legend says that during French rule it was strictly forbidden for slaves to eat pumpkin soup, but upon their independence they began eating it to celebrate freedom! Pumpkin soup will look a little more defiant next time you eat it, right?
Vegetables and Sea Cucumbers
Chinese Weddings include an elaborate eight course meal, with each course casting good fortune upon the happy couple. Eight courses are served because the Chinese words “eight” and “good luck” sound very similar. Serving vegetables and sea cucumbers indicates selflessness and promotes the possibility the couple will act selflessly through their marriage. The hope is that these selfless acts will lead to less conflict, which is why many brides and grooms opt to serve the selfless vegetables and sea cucumbers at their wedding!
Taro, or Qilqas as it’s popularly known in Egypt, is a dip made out of taro root! It’s traditionally served with flatbread and during Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. It is served during Epiphany because the preparation in water resembles the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The preparation calls for peeling and boiling the root in a broth of lemon juice, garlic, and coriander. Once cooked, it is mashed to make a creamy dip. Yum!
This is a traditional Ecuadorian soup that celebrates Holy Week. The twelve ingredients, mainly beans and vegetables, represent Jesus’ twelve disciples. This yummy dish usually takes an entire family two days to prepare peeling beans, chopping vegetables, and catching up in the kitchen while making the soup. Not only does this dish hold deeper meaning, but this plate goes beyond the prep station of the kitchen, and fosters relationships.
Bûche de Noël
This tasty French Christmas cake is shaped like a yule log. It can be traced back to the late 1800’s as an alternative way to enjoy a yule log during Christmas because Napoleon banned burning actual Yule Logs around 1870. A baker created the cake as a way to celebrate without actually burning the log. Such a delicious form of rebellion!
Food is a Right
But in many places around the world right now, that right just isn't available. That's why we're spreading the word about hunger in Africa, where more than 4 million children
are at risk of starvation. We're also calling on Canadians to tell others about this forgotten crisis. Will you join us?