Food is something everyone has in common. It ties together people of different backgrounds, incomes, cultures, and ages. As we sit, or stand, or squat for a meal, we celebrate the food we have in front of us. We are thankful for how little or how much we have, and are even more thankful for the people we get to share it with.
One of my favorite memories growing up is going camping with my family. For some reason we would always have cold and rainy camping trips. Though my mother always said we were cursed when it came to good camping weather, we always made the most of our vacations. My favorite time during these trips would be after dinner when the sun would begin to set. You would see the brightest stars unaffected by pollution, listen to the animals cricking or chirping, and be one with the environment. We would start a fire to keep warm and soon my sister would start telling ghost stories.
I always remember my father sneaking into the car to get his hidden supply of s’more making ingredients for me and my brother. As we stood one with nature, we roasted marshmallows and wedged them in between graham crackers and chocolate. We would have contests to see how marshmallows we could fit into our mouths at once. Looking back on my childhood, the days I was camping with my family and making s’mores are some of my most prized memories.
When I studied abroad in Namibia, I knew I wanted to bring part of my culture to this new environment that had so graciously welcomed me. During the program I had a homestay in the rural north of the country. There was no electricity or running water, and the closest market was about three mile away. This did not deter me one bit as I was set on teaching my host family how to make s’mores.
My host sister and I walked to the market to pick up supplies. The marshmallows were much smaller than what we use in the US (I kept thinking how many more I could fit in my mouth) and there were no graham crackers (we used biscuits instead). I was worried that the chocolate would melt on the walk back but luckily it survived.
That night I taught my three host sisters how to make s’mores. We went through the process of roasting the marshmallows, breaking up the cracker, and making a sandwich out of the pieces. They laughed as the marshmallows caught on fire, smiled as they looked at their creation, and moaned in joy as they bit into the s’more. They had such genuine happiness on their faces and were so excited to try this small piece of American culture.
Something as simple as food was able to cross cultures and bring my US family and Namibian host family together. I took the experiences from my childhood and brought them literally across the world to a new environment. Though we could not always communicate fully, we could share a delicious s’more and new tradition together.