Food Fair Could Be a Recipe for Tolerance

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“Beauty is in culture,” said Arbie Martirosyan, 22, pharmacy major.
So is food. The Cultural Diversity Program of GCC and the United Culture Council, a club that was created this semester, hosted an ethnic food fair and cultural item sale on May 15 in the Plaza Vaquero.

For $4 a plate, people could sample more than 60 dishes including cuisine like dolma (an Armenian dish of stuffed grape leaves), jap che (a Korean noodle dish), papas con mani (an Ecuadorian, Inca potato dish) and bibingka royal (a Filipino pastry).

“People aren’t only tasting other food, they’re learning and accepting other cultures,” said J.C. Moore, sociology department chair and coordinator of the Cultural Diversity Program.

The event raised $495, which will go toward scholarships, lectures and film festivals, Moore said.

Each dish came with its own printed recipe, as well as a little background on the culture from which it came.

According to the card accompanying the maizena, the white, not-too-sweet, pudding-like dessert, is “used in family reunions and is given to family to remember the sweetness of them.”

Cindy Orozco’s recipe card revealed that while chicken taquitos (fried, stuffed and rolled corn tortillas) are one of the most famous Mexican snacks, they have a humble origin.

Her card revealed that many Mexican families are poor, but they normally have corn tortillas around the house, and taquitos can be filled with virtually anything.

The tables, which lay end to end outside the administration building, were topped with more than just food, however.

Besides the food, students also could get a taste of cultures through the artifacts being sold, like Thai cushion cases, a Japanese wall hanging, Middle Eastern jewelry, an Ethiopian cup, Navajo dolls and even “Brady Bunch” videotapes.

Martirosyan, who is also vice president of the United Culture Council, said an awareness of cultural diversity on campus is important for “gaining knowledge, opening eyes, recognizing everybody as a person and understanding the world.”

Ezra Pineda, 19, pharmacy major, said that she believes that everyone is made up of several cultures, not just one. Herself a mix of Hawaiian, Spanish and Filipino, said “we’re all the same and equal. Some people don’t know that and they treat people dirty.”

Reggie Scott, 21, biology major and secretary of the United Culture Council, said he has had firsthand experience with “segregation on campus.”

“People stereotype me. People should learn more about me before they judge,” he said.

Scott said that girls in his class look at him “really funny.” He related the story of how one girl had a crush on him, but her friend disapproved. “Her friend doesn’t want her to like me because I’m black,” he said.

Moore hopes to banish such social bias with education. Her first step is these ethnic food fairs, which the Cultural Diversity Program has hosted each semester for three years.

She said that “America is continually going to be a nation of immigrants.we know that some of the [future] conflict is going to be based on ethnic differences, [and] cultural programs enhance understanding,” said Pineda.