Language of Food

pan de muerto

For the past nine years I’ve hosted a bilingual conversation group as part of my job. It started somewhat accidentally. While I was taking a Spanish class a local technical college, the teacher organized a class visit to an ESL class. We met new people, spoke in Spanish for a while, then in English. We brought food to share. It was something of a language potluck. My teacher, Trish, worked with me on organizing a few opportunities like this outside of class at our public library.  It was such a great idea I thought it would make a great library program. And so it started.

Tonight will be the last Conversation Group at the library where the program began. The group will continue at another library, but as I prepare a Rosca de Reyes for tonight’s program, I’m becoming nostalgic. It occurs to me that this group has been as much about food as it has been about learning a language.

Rosca de Reyes

Because ready-made Mexican foods aren’t available here or are fairly expensive, I’ve taught myself how to make many of them for this group. I’ve made flan, Mexican hot chocolate, Pan de Muerto, horchata and multiple kinds of salsa. I even tried making tortillas (don’t ask). Group members have made and brought foods like atole and tamales. One year, I brought sugar skulls carefully packed and hand-carried back from Mexico. We’ve met at various Mexican restaurants. Through food we’ve been able to learn something about other countries and their cuisine and customs.

Mexican hot chocolate

It’s been a fun journey. I plan to continue learning and preparing new dishes as I continue hosting the program in a different place, but I’ll always remember the library where it all started…this sharing of food and language.

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Categories: Food, Recipes, Reflections, Spanish | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Language of Food

  1. Even though I last took a Spanish language class in 1970, I would have come because of the food. he he. Where are you moving to?

    • TFewless

      Jeanne,

      We’re already meeting at my home library. We’ll just meet twice a month instead of once a month.

  2. rose

    what a wonderful way to share in your husband’s culture, I hope you share some of the food with him too! Congrats on learning a new language, I am sure you are an excellent speaker now. As a family, do you speak Spanish at home?

    • TFewless

      Let’s just say we don’t speak as much as we should. I’d love to speak more at home!

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