On a cool summer evening two years ago, a boy I befriended at his father’s fruit stand in the farmer’s market showed me his drawing pad. Having just immigrated to the U.S. not long ago, he did not speak much English. But from the green papayas and golden rice fields he painted, I saw the world he came from.
At around the same time, a seemingly ordinary image on Food Network caught my attention: A young girl in a remote, poverty-stricken village in Southeast Asia was clinging to a picture she drew — a picture of local produce. Her face was beaming with the happiest smile. On the side of her drawing, a few words were neatly written which translated to: I love to cook. Instantly, my heart lightened up. I might not know which language this girl spoke or where her village was, but I could feel her joy, pride, and hope—the language of food is universal.
These episodes marked the beginning of the concept of International Youth Food Culture Contest, a food-focused writing and art contest for middle and high school students around the world. In both the 2014 and 2015 contests, we received entries from students in four continents of the world. The wonderful entries expressed thoughts, shared experiences, voiced passions, and showcased talents—all about food. I am glad and grateful that the contest, sparked from a small TV image, has connected so many people through food.
If you or a friend is interested in the contest, we would love to hear from you! The submission deadline is July 31, 2016.
Enjoy your summer!