Regular readers know that in my other life I am a full time college instructor of English as a Second Language. This is a very good profession to be in if you like to adventure with food; immigrant and international students tend to be very proud of their national cuisines and more than happy to bring in samples in order to convert you to their way of eating.
I don’t travel as much as I did when I was a full time food, wine, and travel journalist, but since I started this teaching gig, I have covered thousands of miles of previously uncharted gastronomic territory.
We love when our students bring us special treats. But once a semester, they go all out, all at the same time. The most anticipated event of each semester at Language Immersion at Nassau Community College (LINCC) is the End-of-Semester Party – which might be better called “The Best International Potluck Dance Party on Long Island.”
With about 250 students hailing from 39 countries, LINCC is as diverse a community as you can get outside of the U.N. General Assembly.
And when LINCC students bring food to a campus potluck, they don’t just bring the cheapest, easiest dish they can get away with. Oh no.
They. Are. Representing.
I know, because I’ve had the honor of teaching these students – whose goal is to develop their academic English enough to get into the main college –fulltime since the program’s inception six years ago.
Yesterday (Friday, April 26, 2013) was the Spring Social. It was the best one ever, with homemade Indian samosas, parathas, and pakoras; Korean kimchi; Haitian griot; Angolan sugared peanuts; Czech goulash and dumplings; Dominican baked chicken; Salvadoran pupusas with slaw vinaigrette and hot sauce; empanadas from all over the Latin world; Turkish borek; Spanish tortilla; and dishes more familiar to the American table, like shrimp francese and lasagna…
…basically a dizzying array of luscious dishes cooked with care, pride, and – I daresay – a good dollop of love.
The eating is followed by dancing…
salsa, merengue, Hindi pop, Turkish line dancing that is actually circular and involves holding hands, Gangnam Style (how could you not?), Haitian compas, conga lines straight off a cruise ship, and more. Sometimes it’s a mosh pit, and sometimes a giggle fest, but it’s always a cross-cultural feast for the senses. And there are always plenty of leftovers to extend the joy.