“This is chelow kebab, the national dish of Iran,” explained Grade 12 student Eilia Dastmalchian as he unwrapped deliciously scented containers of food. He had brought two types of kebab (chicken and ground beef/lamb) as well as grilled tomato, rice and Persian flatbread to share with other Crescent Upper School students at their Cultural Food Club meeting on November 29, 2019.
As Dastmalchian spoke briefly about chelow kebab and other foods eaten during Persian New Year (Nowruz) celebrations, the club members passed plates of food to each other. Soon, only crumbs were left.
The Cultural Food Club was created by Grade 12 students Wilson Zhou and Sam Li. Every other Wednesday, about 15 club members gather in a classroom during the lunch hour. At each meeting, one or two students bring in food from their family’s culture and give an informal presentation about its significance.
“Crescent is a really diverse community. It’s good to have a place to come together and appreciate the different cultures we have,” says Li.
“As passionate food lovers, there couldn’t be a better way for Sam and I to embrace the diversity of our school than through food,” says Zhou.
At the previous meeting of the Cultural Food Club, the students enjoyed snacks and dessert from southern China. At the next meeting, Syrian food will be on the menu. And while a faculty member serves as a club advisor, the students are responsible for organizing the meetings and preparing the presentations.
The club members have a variety of reasons for participating. One student says he’s excited to learn about different kinds of food, while another appreciates learning about the cultural traditions.
“People are passionate about their cultures and want to share that passion with others,” says Grade 12 student Jim Liu, who is one of the club members.