A celebration of community, friendship and – of course – food will be on the menu this weekend at St. James United Church Hall in Antigonish.
Cultural Connections Antigonish (CCA) will host the second international potluck of its sixth season Sunday, Sept. 23, starting at 5:30 p.m.
“Our focus continues to be bringing people together to celebrate the rich cultural life in our community,” Brenda Berthiaume, CCA member, said.
Since its inception, the group has placed its focus on “offering food and fellowship to our diverse community.”
“It is about coming together to share with each other,” CCA member Fran Wittgens noted, whether it is through food – with the potluck gatherings – or other opportunities to celebrate our myriad cultures.
Throughout its effort, CCA has fostered partnerships, including with St. F.X. nutrition students, who are integral to the food preparation and service aspects of the celebration.
They have been provided with not only an opportunity to put what they have learned in their studies into practice, but also make a contribution to the broader Antigonish community.
LGBTQ and L’Arche are just a couple communities that have partnered with CCA to deliver not only the potluck meal, but also a sense of sharing, including their time and experiences.
Repast from the Past
This weekend, CCA’s partners will include members of both the St. F.X. history department and society.
“It happened pretty organically,” Barry MacKenzie, part-time history instructor, said, in talking about the genesis of the partnership.
Last spring, faculty and students started discussing ways in which they could not only inform people about what they do, but also give back to the broader Antigonish community.
He described CCA as a “perfect working example” of such an effort to bring people together.
With Repasts from the Past – the theme for the international potluck – he explained, they are encouraging people to bring dishes inspired by family or historic recipes.
“Food is a universal language,” faculty member Laurie Stanley-Blackwell said, noting the cross-cultural aspect of sharing recipes and dining together.
During the potluck, there will also be displays of vintage and antique cookbooks and culinary instruments.
“We hope people will want to share the stories – the history – around their dishes,” MacKenzie, who is going to make a war cake, said.
He noted the history of the dessert, which takes its name from the era that made it famous; war time, when there was plenty of rationing.
The confectionary uses no eggs, milk or butter.
Stanley-Blackwell noted the history of food is about more than the era from which it comes, but also the family story involved with a particular dish, or the memories it brings up.
She added it evokes the ‘when I was young’ feelings most of us have, when it comes to food.
Student Catherine Culhane of the history society said her classmates have embraced the idea, noting many are working on recipes reflecting everything from Acadian to Chinese traditions.
She noted she plans to tackle a dish from her native Newfoundland.
Along with culinary delights, MacKenzie noted, there will be music played dating from medieval times through history.
They are also planning a door prize, which will be books dealing with the theme of food.
“And, I still have to get a dinner gong,” Stanley-Blackwell said, with a laugh, in indicating her plan on how to start the meal with its ringing.
Along with their participation in the potluck, the history department representatives recently put together displays on the history of cooking, which includes books and implements.
To contribute recipe suggestions and, maybe, even the stories behind them, visit the St. F.X. history department Facebook page.
The CCA members reminded that each international potluck is open to everyone.
“We, as always, are family friendly,” Berthiaume said, noting there is a children’s corner provided for the youngsters.
People are also reminded to bring a dish for everyone to share, which ensures there is food for all.
The remaining CCA international potluck schedule for this season includes partnerships with international students (Oct. 21), the Middle Eastern community (Nov. 18) and African Heritage Month (Feb. 24).
Each celebration will take place Sunday, at 5:30 p.m., at St. James United Church Hall.
For more information about Cultural Connections Antigonish, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page (ccantigonish).