The World Food Day format has been running for over a decade now and was started to celebrate the international diversity of the parish where parishioners are invited to cook a dish to share which is representative of their country.
The event is generally held on the Sunday before Lent and breaks the post-Christmas gloom of long cold nights and avoids a feast during Lent. After the Sunday 10.15 Mass, the parish make their way to the hotel to enjoy tea/coffee on arrival and a selection of freshly baked cakes and biscuits, all provided by members of the parish.
Willing cooks who are happy to prepare a dish for about 10 people set up thieir dishes on tables around the edge of the hall and after Grace from parish priest, Fr David Finegan, everyone takes a small plate and samples a little from each table.
Typically we have around 12 catering nationalities and the quality of the food is always excellent, it really is a fantastic culinary event. I had never understood what Mielie Meal was until our Zimbabwean friend cooked with it.
This year, a new table from the Seychelles had grilled grouper fish. The curries from India, delicate flavours from Burma, dishes from the Philippines, China, Syria and USA as well as European dishes more familiar to the Suffolk locals are all truly delicious. The main challenge is pacing your intake on the way round to make sure you have enough room to complete the course.
The event is easy to organise as long as people offer to cater and come along. It is not run as a fund raising event and donations at the door always cover the room hire and ancillary costs, all caterers are offered the costs of their ingredients so there is no embarrassment in asking again next year.
If you have a good church hall with kitchen then you are ready to host this. We use the local hotel who know us well and are happy for us to use their kitchen and open the bar up for us. It is a good social event in our parish calendar and is a true family event – we generally set a corner of the room up for toys so parents can relax whilst the children play trains and eat as much as they can.
Pictured above are the international array of cooks from the Stowmarket World Food Day.