Boru: You don’t have to be a people person to experience other cultures

What better way than to immerse yourself in what the Twin Cities has to offer in cultural diversity than comfort food and events.

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Luul Boru

I am a people watcher and a food lover. I feel like people might mistake my watchful eyes for leering and the thought of it makes me laugh. I loved taking Metro Transit — at least before COVID-19 — just so that I could watch people in their natural habitats. Our differences are so appealing to me that it makes me want to learn more about people and their history. I want to learn about different cultures to increase my appreciation for human beings. So, I thought I could entice you into making this summer a cultural exploration experience through food and customs.

Comfort food is generally thought of as quick food that pleases the soul, like ice cream and snacks, but it can also be different types of food for different people. For me, trying new dishes from different cultures is my comfort food. We have so many different restaurants in the Twin Cities that offer a variety of dishes, each one is unique to a particular culture or goes back to a certain ethnicity.

There are many restaurants with Asian cuisines, my favorite being an all-you-can-eat buffet called Panda Garden Buffet in Roseville. For an East African taste, see Fasika, an Ethiopian restaurant in Midway. Marhaba Grill in North Minneapolis offers a Mediterranean buffet. Downtowner Woodfire Grill in downtown St. Paul for Persian cuisine. Broders’ Pasta Bar in South Minneapolis for some Italian taste. It is all about having that curious appetite and cravings for new experiences. We already dine at different restaurants with different cultural themes, but I want the intention for this exploration to be one of unity, love and appreciation for people from different cultures and backgrounds.

I believe food brings people together, and to truly understand one another is to learn about our different cultures through any means. It is easy to order or self serve, eat, pay the bills and walk out without much thought. After the murder of George Floyd and the pandemic, our city is still recovering from such trauma and hardships. But we now again have the opportunity to get to know our neighbors as equal citizens who deserve to enjoy every right and privilege other Americans enjoy. Holding a conversation with the waiters and waitresses about what they recommend, or even talking to people at the table across from us can bring us closer.

Other means of cultural exploration can be through cultural events such as the Irish Fair of Minnesota coming up in August, or the 8th Annual Jamaican Independence Day celebration. We are blessed to have the second largest state fair in the nation and sporting events like baseball games or even the Super Bowl, which are gathering spots for many that are interested. I have been to multiple Twins games and the only people I talked to were the group I went with. It is easy to stay reserved and within our comfort zone, but talking to people who look different from us is both intellectually growing and keeps us aware of our differences, and makes us appreciate each other.

Museums are another way to learn about other cultures through historical artifacts. I am trying to teach myself how to appreciate all the pieces displayed and presented. After all, one of the ways of transferring history from generation to generation is through symbols. This is the place to travel through the time periods to learn about what it was like in the past. I love history, and through it, an appreciation for our fellow humans can deepen.

We have a wonderful multicultural festival here in the Twin Cities that I have yet to attend called The Festival of Nations. In 2019, nearly 100 different ethnic groups came together to celebrate their cultural heritage. Some of the many cultures represented in the exhibits include Columbian, Thai, Turkish, Dutch culture and more. The festival was canceled last year and this year due to COVID-19, but it is where people from different backgrounds get to display their culture through food stands, dance performances, and cultural exhibits. Just imagine being in a circle clapping and laughing with people you have nothing in common with. That is respect and love for humanity.