This issue of Global Impressions focuses on taste. Taste can mean many things: it can be the flavor of something, the literal experience of it on your tongue; it can be a sense of style, a way of being. In the following essays, it encompasses everything from the pleasure of discovering new foods to sharing a culture with a friend. We wanted to highlight the developing, changing, and expanding tastes of Smith students as they engage with other cultures here or abroad, and our submissions did not disappoint. We hope you enjoy reading the issue as much as we enjoyed compiling it.
We invite you to submit a photo and accompanying short essay for our next issue, the third iteration of our annual International Photo Contest, Global Encounters. We want to hear the story behind your photo – what inspired you to take that image? Did it help you see something new? We are accepting submissions through February 15th. See our submission page for details.
– The Editors
He was looking for an intern. I was looking for a reason to stay. I had just finished a semester of studying Mandarin in Beijing. I made friends with locals. I had pictures taken of me by strangers. I drank qsingtao by the half-liter. I produced a three-thousand-character report on the conflict between environmental protection and China’s market economy.
When I was first served ojja, a deep red, Tunisian-style spicy tomato-based stew, at a small street food restaurant in downtown Tunis, I was immediately caught off guard. How would I eat this dish without a knife and fork, a spoon, or chopsticks? I innocently posed the question to my roommate, Fidaa, who was with me. “Yadik!” she replied.
Many years ago a friend was visiting me in Paris, and she said something that described me in way I’d never really seen. We were walking down Boulevard Saint Germain past the Cluny Museum. I wanted her to see the quotidian side of the area, not just the chic cafes and shops. I took her to one of my favorite places, the street market, Maubert, said to be one of Paris’ oldest.
“Baguette!” It’s the only word my Dutch friend knows in French, and she likes to drop it into the conversation from time to time. She doesn’t know that it makes my heart skip a beat — if one of the stereotypes about French people is true, it is the one about our veneration of bread.
I stand in my room and gaze outside the window as large snow flakes gracefully find their way to the ground. “Can we just have some warmth?” I think to myself, irritated by the temperature fluctuations. At this point, my heater has been failing, and the dropping temperatures have not been doing my situation any good.
For a very long time, I have been an indoor person. Like one of those indoor cats, that has been so tamed and domesticated. When every other cat will rush an open door to become the feral being that it was always meant to be, I sit at the window, preferring to look longingly outside than actually venture into nature.
While studying abroad in Florence, Italy, I interned as a teaching assistant for an early childhood education center in Pistoia. I cared for children from 4 to 18 months. I supported first language acquisition and modeled positive social behaviors. As I reflect on my experiences in Italy, I am still moved by the principles I learned, particularly the notion of la pedagogia di buon gusto, “the pedagogy of good taste.”
Last summer, through the Sustainable Food Concentration and funding from an International Experience Grant, I interned at the Spannocchia Foundation in Tuscany, Italy. I was a tuttofare (literally, “do everything”) intern on the farm and primarily tended to the vineyard. One of many incredible privileges my fellow interns and I experienced was a weekly education program— covering everything from pasta to my personal favorite: wine.
Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t like beer. No, not even six months at Queen Mary University of London, where I spent the spring of 2015, could turn me into an ale-appreciator. But over my time in the United Kingdom, I came to value beer for far more than its taste.
There’s usually no shortage of food in a house of mourners, and sometimes, the most unusual dishes can be a distraction from grief.
In the summer of 1946, 43 eager college juniors set sail for Geneva on the S.S. Washington to partake in Smith College’s study abroad program.They acquired a unique education through dinner gatherings amidst the post-War landscape.