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Bridging cultural gaps and sharing food at Joy of Feeding 2012

Vancouver is home to a multitude of cultures from around the world. It’s important that we celebrate our diversity through building an inclusive environment by sharing our cultures, our traditions and our way of life.

A great thing about Vancouverites is their love for different ethnic cuisines; walk down most streets in Vancouver and you will see a plethora of restaurants catering to the adventurous eaters. Unfortunately there are some ethnic groups that are under-represented here which makes an event like Joy of Feeding, an international food fair, even more intriguing because of its unique exposure.

Sixteen countries were represented at the event that happened earlier this month, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Hakka Chinese, Chile, Mexico, Maya (Guatemala), Pakistan, Goa (India), Egypt, Syria, Tsimshian First Nations, Canada (Vancouver), Vietnam, Southern Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The cooks at this event are not professional chefs, they are simply individuals who love to cook and regularly prepare their culture's traditional food.

I was curious as to how Meeru Dhalwala, co-founder of Joy of Feeding, finds these "cooks" and after chatting with her it seems she is quite resourceful. As a very warm individual I would find it hard to believe that anyone would say no to her when asked if they would come and prepare food at her event, even after a bit of "stalking".

"I followed Suzanne around for a while and after a quick chat found out that she was from Syria. I was so excited and after explaining to her about Joy of Feeding she agreed to come out and share her country's traditional dish." Explained Meeru.

Next year there will be sixteen new cooks representing other countries in the world. Meeru mentioned that she already has a few lined up including Lebanon, Malaysia and El Salvador. The only countries that will be returning are Indian and China, the main countries represented locally, but with focus on different regions of each country. There will also be someone representing Vancouver again next year.

To enhance the experience there were global beats from Tarun ‘Tspoon’ Nayar (Delhi 2 Dublin), Rup Sidhu (Banyen Roots), Ndidi Cascade. The beautiful thing about these guys is that they always seem to come to events with a couple of songs catered specifically for the event. They even admitted to me that often they go up there and just go for it, without anything scripted, and create a mishmash that gets the crowd moving. And the crowd was definitely moving; almost everyone there seemed to get up at one point or another to jump around

"You're on a farm get out of your comfort zone," they yelled out to the crowd between verses of inclusive encouragement such as "We are one people, we are equal."

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