Pasta, Pesto, and Peanut Sauce: An Intercultural Potluck

The ETA-AmCor crew at the end of our successful potluck!
The ETA-AmCor crew at the end of our successful potluck!

Several weeks ago I went to Universitas Airlangga’s American Corner (AmCor) for the first time. I arrived “fashionably late” (traffic took two hours instead of the expected one) but I still made it! Before I had the chance to introduce myself to everyone, Mas Agung, AmCor’s coordinator, informed me that they were planning on having an intercultural cooking class with me.

Me: “How fun! Where is it?”
Mas Agung: “Ah, we were thinking at your house, actually.”
Me: “My house? Uh… okay? Uhh.. Yeah, sounds good.”

Thus party planning began, which culminated in an estimated 67 people cramming into every corner of my house last Saturday for an Amer-indo-talian luncheon.

The Guests

Caroline and Shreya are in the far left of this photo. The AmCor crew are in the foreground and the ranks of students fill out the rest of the space in the background.
Caroline and Shreya are in the far left of this photo. The AmCor crew are in the foreground and the ranks of students fill out the rest of the space in the background.

Me, the hostess with mostest! 😉

Krupa, my sitemate, who slept over on Friday night so that we could get cooking early in the morning on the Big Day.

Shreya and Caroline, fellow ETAs, who went above and beyond to come up from Malang (a city over two hours away by train) for the day.

Mas Agung, who can take full credit for the idea and who bought most of the food supplies.

About 12 of our friends from AmCor who are all students in various faculties at Universitas Airlangga. They were the first to come, the last to leave, and the only reason we were able to feed everyone.

Mbak Sari, my neighbor who is in college studying to become an English teacher. She was the real rock star by supplying all the pots/platters/plates from her house when we realized (too late) that we needed more than what I had at my house.

6 teachers from SMA Wachid Hasyim, who brought their best attitudes, big appetites, cakes to share, and added sparkle to our party.

Around 43 of my English Club students who came despite the rain and brought enough Papaya-flavored drink and cups for everyone.

Food prep was a non-stop process. The bruschetta was a particularly big hit: we couldn't make them fast enough!
Food prep was a non-stop process. The bruschetta was a particularly big hit: we couldn’t make them fast enough!

The Menu

PBJ bite-size sandwich squares.

Deviled eggs.

Pasta with homemade sauce a la Chef Krupa.

Bruschetta with olive pesto.

Gado-gado, an Indonesian salad made with fresh lettuce, lightly steamed green beans and bean sprouts, hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu, and smothered in delicious peanut sauce.

Various cakes and cookies.

Papaya-flavored juice.

The Outcome

This potluck was a resounding success thanks to all the people who came and helped with the shopping, the chopping, the cooking, and the cleaning. It was quite the intercultural event! Foods like deviled eggs and bruschetta were completely foreign to our Indonesian friends while we learned a few things about hosting parties Indo-style. No chairs, plates, napkins, or silverware? No problem! I had borrowed rugs from my school in advance to cover almost all the open floor space. People sat on the ground, which is the norm for eating in large groups in Indonesia.

And when the squad of 40+ students rolled up to the house we quickly realized we didn’t have enough plates or silverware for everyone. Someone from AmCor had the genius idea to have everyone use brown waxy paper that is usually used for wrapping fried food/rice to-go, which saved us until Sari showed up with paper plates for everyone that she got from her house. Thankfully no silverware was no problem. It is de rigueur for people to eat with their hands so my lack of foresight didn’t have the detrimental effect on the party that it would have had in the U.S. As for no napkins: I’m sure they would have been appreciated but no one said anything.

Probably the cutest sitemate photo to date of Caroline and Shreya.
Probably the cutest sitemate photo to date of Caroline and Shreya.

While the main focus of the party was the food, we also got the students up and moving with dance that every American knows: the Cha Cha Slide. The rain stopped just as we finished eating and took our party to the streets with our flash dance rendition of an American staple. It was a blast to teach the kids to Charlie Brown, cha cha, criss-cross, get low, and bring it to the top right there in the street to the beat blasted from my portable speaker.

Overall the party was a lot of fun. I feel grateful to have found such fun people so quickly and I can’t wait for our next get-together! Thanksgiving get-together, anyone?

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2 thoughts on “Pasta, Pesto, and Peanut Sauce: An Intercultural Potluck

  1. What an awesome party Kelly!! It appears that so many different cultures came together, shared food, smiles, and had a great time dancing as well. Very, very cool. Love you, Aunt Betsy

    Like

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