A good introduction to various national and ethnic identities, for me anyway, starts with the cuisine. Good food is always an ice breaker and a great way to make new friends and introduce them to your culture. Food speaks of the land, the people of the land, customs, and so much more. If someone is nieve of said culture, the food will open them up to greater exploration of it, a proverbial key to piquing interest in learning more.
When I found out I am Ashkenazi Jewish and began exploring the peoplehood and culture, food helped to bring me deeper into my studies, I wasn’t just reading about it all, I was tasting it as well. It helped to draw me deeper into the culture, no longer just reading it, but living a bit of it as well. I adamantly believe that if people learned a bit about the cultures where their food came from, the world would become more culturally diverse and open. Mexican, Italian, Jewish, Caribbean, Ethiopian, Japanese, these foods (and many others) are a taste of their culture, of the people, of the life, an informal introduction thereof.
When getting to know new people, I find it’s often handy to have a small soiree whereas each person is responsible for bringing a taste of their favorite ethnic foods. Even if ethnicity isn’t brought up once during the meetup, it’s a good taste/introduction to break the ice. This is especially fun when you are new to a neighborhood and want to meet your neighbors in an atmosphere of getting to know one another and acceptance as individuals of different backgrounds and preferences.
Good food breeds good times, couple that with a good drink (it doesn’t have to be alcoholic) and you’ve got yourself a party. Get to know one another from the culinary level up, make it fun, make it inclusive and ensure that everyone has a good time. This is a great way to break the ice, make new friends, and say “hey I’m new here,” all at the same time.
So get out there, taste your neighbors, let them get to know you, it’s a great way to enter a new community.