Celebrating Bedford’s Cultural Diversity, One Meal at a Time

October 25, 2012

Submitted by Barb Purchia

The party’s international buffet

The Bedford Cultural Council (BCC) was invited to an international potluck dinner party on October 21 hosted by Leslie Wittman, one of the BCC’s 2012 grant recipients.

Leslie has been developing a food and culture video project called What’s Cooking Bedford? Celebrating cultural diversity one meal at a time.  Throughout 2012 she interviewed ten Bedford residents from various and diverse backgrounds for the video and also videotaped them cooking some of their favorite recipes. This included filming a group of women from Taiwan and China who held a dumpling-making party.

As a culmination to the project Leslie wanted to bring together the video participants, their families, and members of the BCC to meet each other and to enjoy food representing their various heritages and cultures.  A sampling of the delicious and eclectic variety of food included Hungarian lesco, British shepherd’s pie, Native American crowha, Spanish potato and spinach omelets, Jewish brisket and noodle kugel, Indian aloo, Indonesian nasi goreng, French crème brûlée, Austrian palatschinken and Danish spice cake.

Dishes were prepared by the following video participants: Heather Pullen originally from London, England, Catrine Kelty – Paris and Montreal, Anna Bueno-Peraire – Barcelona, Spain, Payal Goel – Lucknow, India, and Claudia Fox Tree whose heritage is Native American (Arawak) and German. Other dishes were made by Leslie – Hungary, Kim Siebert – Maine, and the BCC attendees: Ginny Packer, Breena Daniell, Jane Franklin, and Barbara Purchia.  Video participants who were unable to attend are: Michael Knight – South Africa, Flavia Cardarelli – Argentina, Jan van Steenwijk – Netherlands and Indonesia, Uma Goel – India, Lella Donahue whose parents are from Italy, Alice Sun – Taiwan and the rest of the and the dumpling-making group: Michell Chiu, Sue-fen Cuti, and Lily Yan.

Leslie plans to have the video completed by the end of the year and will have a public showing at the Bedford Library as well airing it on Bedford TV.  The project will be a two-disc set with interviews and stories on one disc and cooking demonstrations on the other.  The complete set will be available at the library.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council believes that the arts, sciences, and humanities have the power to build healthier, more livable, more vital communities.  They build bridges across cultures.  They help us remember our past and shape our future.  Leslie’s video project helps promote the rich cultural diversity in Bedford and encourages us to remember our heritage and to enjoy sharing our cooking and experiences with the community.

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