On Tuesday, March 10th, the student members of all of East’s language clubs (French, German, Spanish, and Mandarin) congregated for an annual cooking competition highlighting different foods from the many cultures represented.
All the language clubs had an hour with their members to create a dish or two from their respective world culture and at the end of the hour, judges voted for their favorite. The annual friendly competition is officially called El 大 Fêtegäßle, which incorporates words from all the languages taught at East.
El is “the” in Spanish.
Dà means “big” in Chinese.
Fête is “festival” in French.
And Gäßle is a street of celebration in Germany.
Senior French Club President Lou Vacassy was present at the event.
“It’s a mix of all languages combined to show unity in our schools and shows how we bring cultures together,” Vacassy said.
The event began promptly with students gathering ingredients and supplies from around the Foods classroom and also with a big entrance from members of Spanish Club.
Sophomore Spanish Club member Ainsley Ratledge said that the club adheres to very specific practices for the event.
“Spanish club wears our matching club shirts and matching bandanas. We also like to enter the kitchen as a club and play mariachi music on a speaker, just for a little bit of extra fun,” Ratledge said.
The diversity in the Foods room was apparent as Spanish music blared from the front corner of the room, prompting many to sing along while members of Mandarin Club developed a short cheer in Mandarin.
The distinct smells of German curryhähnchen mit reis und früchte combined with the choux pastry smells from the French corner making éclairs could even be smelled from the Main Office, according to Assistant Principal, and one of the competition judges, Julie Lam.
The event is a great celebration of cultures, according to junior Mandarin Club member Omari Hoover. His club decided on making Coca-Cola chicken wings with rice and stir-fried broccoli after rounds of voting and finalizing for the event.
All the language clubs understand the importance of involving all members. For sophomore Snigdha Akula, Spanish Club put a lot of thought into their selections.
“We chose a bunch of ideas and wrote them on the board. We slowly removed dishes that seemed far too complicated or dishes we felt wouldn’t hit the mark and finally came to the conclusion that we wanted to make horchata and elotes,” Akula said.
While the winner of the competition receives a plaque and bragging rights, many are there for the experience. Senior Ava Kram, member of German Club, said it was her second year participating and she loved the food and spending time with people while cutting apples for apfel quark krapfen, a fried apple dessert.
“I guess the best part is getting to know a little about everyone’s culture and getting to eat what you made after you’re done,” Kram said.
The significance of the event is not lost on the club sponsors, either. German Club sponsor Anna Hog said that it is not enough for students to embrace foreign cultures throughout the year. This dinner allowed them to bring their appreciation of language together.
“Culture, culture, culture! The kids learn so much between food and cooking and culture. It’s just super fun to get together,” Hog said.
The friendly competition aspect created a warm atmosphere for all individuals there. Spanish Club sponsor Fatin Zayed could be heard teasing Chinese teacher Lin Liu.
“Rookie mistake, lǎoshī,” Zayed shouted at the competition. Lǎoshī means “teacher” in Mandarin. “Kids don’t like broccoli!”
But after a few dropped paper plates, several mispronunciations of food names, and many casted ballots later, the students and sponsors gathered in the community room to feast.
Junior Jorge Sanchez from Mandarin Club said the event was a good experience overall.
“When you’re just in one language club, or just one language, you only really learn about that culture. But when you have all the classes here, you really get to learn what cuisine is like around the world,” Sanchez said.
This year’s El 大 Fêtegäßle was a delectable success, and the champion of the contest will be announced by the end of this week.
“Coming together not just as a club and seeing everyone work together is such a good experience,” Hoover said. “I’m doing it again next year.”
Vivian La is the Opinion Editor for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl