Community suppers. Church potlucks. Festive receptions. Learning how to cook traditional dishes then sitting down together to enjoy. Gathering to exchange art, food, culture and community is on the menu at Portland Ovations.
Throughout the years, our welcoming Portland communities have opened their hearts and cookbooks to Ovations artists visiting us from away. Fondly we remember festive potluck suppers for Voices of Afghanistan, African Children’s Choir and the Jones Family Singers. We’ve deepened our experience of different cultures by getting in the kitchen and learning how to cook among friends, old and new. Our earliest community suppers with Spirit of Uganda and Dan Zanes & Friends had members of our local New Mainer communities, led by beloved Ugandan elder Jaja Maine, teaching us how to make food that was then shared with more than 150 friends at East End Community and King Middle Schools. A special treat, the mother-daughter artistic team of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy from Ragamala Dance Company led us through a delightful demo in traditional South Indian cooking. And yes, after we sat together to eat the fruits of our labor. The joyous artists’ receptions, many in local homes, eating and drinking together are too numerous to recount.
As we eagerly look to welcoming our April artists from Germany, Algeria, Ukraine and beyond — again our thoughts turn to food and culture. Marko Halanevych from DakhaBrakha has made quite a name for himself with his borscht-making workshops. While we can’t hold one of these during DakhaBrakha’s virtual visit, we look forward to sharing Marko’s grandmother’s borscht recipe with you. As always, there were surprises too. When we asked the Fauré Quartett for their favorite recipe – in addition to receiving a recipe for traditional Käsespätzle – the ensemble passed along how they make their go-to nosh: piňa coladas and guac. Who doesn’t appreciate those tasty tips?