Smith College Junior Year in Geneva By Nicole Teller

Essay by NTellerCollege, UndergraduateA-, July 2005

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 14 times

The scent of potatoes, onions, and oil always filled my Geneva apartment. In the morning when Phillipp cooked his German rösti, the smell of grated, fried potatoes and onions blended with the aroma of coffee. At lunch, Matt frequently burned his typical British dish of cubed red potatoes, onions, and meat. In the evening, Sayouba prepared his traditional Burkina Faso stews, always beginning by sautéing potatoes and onions in oil before adding vegetables and meats that simmered for over an hour. Even Serela's Sri Lankan vegetable curries usually included our apartment's staples. When Maria-Reina missed home, she cooked her favorite Spanish cuisine, most often Spanish tortilla, a traditional omelet of fried onion and potato slices. For the month of Ramadan, Abdel-Malek prepared hearty Algerian evening meals, combining his grandmother's hand-made couscous with roasted potatoes, onions, chick peas, cinnamon, cumin, and olive oil, and invited Muslim and non-Muslim friends alike to dine together.

I never cooked with potatoes. I didn't even know how to cook traditional American food. So I made it my goal to learn about my roommates' traditional cuisines. Thus the first few months of the year became my intensive, international, nutritional education. I learned about different kinds of curry powders, how to flip a tortilla, and how Ramadan played a significant role in Algerian culture. Cooking together led to discussion of the culture of tea time in England, the experience of living in a Burkinabe family that practices polygamy, and what it was like to grow up in Communist Germany.

Just as my flat mates brought the world map to life for me, I became a new face of America for them. Even amongst a group of highly-educated, potential international leaders, my apartment mates expressed surprise that I wished to learn about their cultures, histories, and...