Aimee Zaring teaches ESL in Jefferson County Public Schools. She also taught ESL to elderly in Kentucky Refugee Ministries and Catholic Charities where she understood the universal language of food, in potlucks of native dishes. Her love for the cross-cultural flavor grew not just teaching ESL to the multitudes of ethnic students at KRM and JCPS, but also drew her attention to the food ingredients that make up the core of the cultures of refugee population in Louisville. Aimee made up her mind to put together the food ingredients in black and white, besides the story of their journey to US from their homeland in a book form that she rightly named “Flavors from Home.”
She said with BNS, “I worked in the project for over two years and I was welcomed to kitchens of all of my subjects. I cooked with them, ate and chatted for long over the platter of rice plates and shared a lot of cultural heritages brought by these refugees.”
Two stories of Bhutanese families resettled in Louisville are included in the book. According to Aimee, this is a recognition to the refugee themselves, welcoming our new neighbors.
Kamalapti Subedi, a prominent elderly of the community is featured for his story of fleeing Bhutan, writing the book“Bhutan Aaja ko paripreksha ma”, involving in community events and festivals, buying a new home, struggling to get naturalized and more.
Goma Acharya, a Walmart employee has similar story of having struggle in learning to adapt and getting along with the US ways, including the language learning.
Both have shared the flavors of Nepali ethnicity and Bhutanese traditional/national cuisine. Dhakane, Ema-datshi (chilli-cheese curry of Bhutan), vegetable momo (dumpling) and tomato chutney seasoned with sesame seed, the fresh goat meat are some that the writer seems to admire most.
When asked how difficult was it to get the story in the kitchens of refugees, Aimee shared her hard work, “ It took a lot of research and legwork–not only cooking in the kitchens with each refugee but then later going back and testing each of the 42 recipes to make sure they could be duplicated correctly. Sometimes the refugees themselves didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the ingredients they were cooking with or their native cuisines, so I had to do some independent research to discover the answers, including asking others from their same ethnic group or region of the world. I also visited most of the refugees in the book more than once and ate several meals with them. In addition, we had many discussions via phone or email about details of their recipes or cuisines. It was a lot of work, but it was well worth it.”
Divided into 23 chapters, the book includes people (who were former refugees) of fourteen nationalities with forty two recipes of native food, and their story of journey.
At the end of her introduction page is written in italics: part of the proceeds from this book will support the efforts of Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services and Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
The book will be soon available in Louisville Free Public library for the food lovers to check-out