Reading and recipes came together in a tasty combination at the Stettler Public Library last week.
The library and the town’s Adult Learning Council hosted an International Dessert and Appetizer Night on Tuesday, Sept. 9.
“What we had planned was to get a lot of our ESL students to come and share their cuisine,” said Adult Learning program assistant Pam Taylor.
Guests were invited to bring food from their native lands, and to bring along copies of their recipes to share.
Among the fare offered was apple walnut bundt cake from Germany, Thai butternut squash soup, and a Ukrainian dessert called medivnyk — along with Western favourites like Rice Krispies squares and Saskatoon cake.
“The face of Stettler is changing,” said Taylor. “We’re becoming much more multicultural.”
The event was planned in celebration of International Literacy Week, and as such it was also designed to promote the Adult Learning Council’s ESL classes and the programs the library offers for speakers of other languages.
Taylor said the council will begin its next set of ESL classes at the end of September. Each class generally attracts about a dozen students.
Joaquin Sanchez, 30, arrived in Stettler from Mexico almost three years ago. He works locally as a pig farmer and lives here with his wife, Karem Garcia, and their 5-month-old son Adrian.
While he studied basic English in his homeland, he said he took an ESL course in Stettler, Sanchez said he appreciated being able to listen to native speakers use the language, saying it was like hearing the “real thing.”
He was also impressed with the one-on-one tutoring at home provided by the council.
“It was very, very helpful,” he said. “They are always willing to help you learn and improve. . . They are doing an awesome job.”
Sanchez and his family brought a Mexican dessert called carlota. The ingredients include sliced peaches, cookies, table cream, lime juice and sweetened, condensed milk.
The evening also included several performances by six students from Rhonda McCulloch’s Danceology studio, who danced in several styles, including a Bollywood-style routine set to “Arabian Nights” from the Disney film Aladdin.
The set also included the “Shim Sham Shimmy” tap routine, a Scottish dance and a Brazilian salsa. The dancers included Jessa Heatherington, Tayla, Jezlyn and Lenae Van Oers, Caitlin Forseth and Raye Meyn.
As the evening wound down, library program and event co-ordinator Darlene Philpot said she was pleased with the outcome, remarking on how she had overheard people exchanging addresses and phone numbers and inviting each other out for coffee.
“The time of year and the weather that we’ve got is perfect,” she said, referring to the cold temperatures outside. “It was like celebrating Thanksgiving with new friends.”