In 1993, shortly after I had decided to rebuild my life in California, six of my friends came over for refreshments. As we huddled together, we realized the different shades of our skin and contours of our faces. The seven of us represented six countries; Switzerland, Thailand, Iran, Israel, Guatemala, and the United States. We planned a party the following Sunday, but this time with an intention: each person must bring a dish of food from their native country.
That was twenty-two years ago, and we still remember the joy of sharing our cultures from that humble dining experience. One friend brought Persian rice, another brought chicken with peanut sauce, another brought black beans with fried bananas. I flipped hamburgers. It was a moment that awakened us all. Although our physical differences were obvious, we realized we were all strikingly the same.
Our family now celebrates the International Dinner every year. It has become a tradition of thankfulness. We are thankful to be alive, for our human experiences, and to enjoy the company of our friends.
The International Dinner was never born from a religious belief, but was based on the mutual respect that we are all born from the same planet we call Earth. The International Dinner is available to every race, and all who come in peace and thanksgiving.
After this post was written, I realized there was no English word, other than xenophile, that represented the intense love and respect of persons from diverse backgrounds. With the help of master wordsmith Doug Lowry, the word uniphilarsian was born, and translated, “One who loves, regards, and watches over the unique aspect of every other person.”
Perhaps next year this gathering will be called the Uniphilarsian Dinner.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
― Ruth Reichl
22nd annual International Dinner is August 16, 2015.