As summertime draws to a close and classes start anew so the days of the iconic school lunch. Whether you grew up bringing a brown paper bag filled with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple, potato chips, and milk or were forced to stand in line for a reheated meal to be slopped on your tray by the school lunch lady, the traditional American school lunch is anything but gourmet. But what about in schools in the rest of the world? It turns out school meals vary drastically from country to country. From the gourmet salmon and guinea fowl, roasted potato, and steamed vegetables served to school children in France to the tribal bean and corn recipe "Githeri" served daily to students in Kenya school lunches are anything but basic. Check out some of the typical school lunches you can find around the world:
Salmon, rice, ratatouille, a slice of bread, a celery and carrot salad, slice of bread, and a doughnut is a common school lunch in France. These school lunches are provided by the school and cooked by real chefs in efforts to promote healthy eating and to French cuisine. Students are even served their meals on heated plates with real utensils!
In Italy school lunches provided by schools are also meant to teach students about local traditions and sustainable farming. And pasta isn't the only thing these students are served. Zucchini risotto with a mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad is a typical meal in Italy.
Rice, fish, seaweed vegetable soup, pickled cucumbers, and soy milk make up a traditional Japanese school meal. Meals are served with the teacher who eats the same food as the children and discourages wastefulness and picky eating during the meal.
In Kenya school meals need to be cheap, nourishing, and filling. The traditional fare for student lunches is Githeri, a tribal recipe using stewed beans and corn and sometimes supplemented with meat or vegetables. As a nation with few resources to use on education these meals are simple while still being nourishing and filling.
Here students get a multiple course meal. They typically start with soup such as borsch- a beet soup with vegetables and meat followed by more meat in either a sausage or cutlet and mashed potatoes. Dessert usually consists of a pancake.
Argentinian meals are also very meat-oriented. Much simpler than Ukrainian meals, Argentinian students typically get a meat filled empanada if they choose to eat at the school. For a more well-rounded meal students bring food and snacks from home.
Indian parents most often pack their children meals to take to school as school lunch is not typically provided. Roti, a leafy vegetable, curried lentils and rice is the typical Indian school meal. Indian schools do however provide snacks throughout the day, such as batatavada- a fried potato crumb round, very popular with the students.
School children in Cuba are provided traditional fare that appeals to the young students. Rice, a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root, and yellow pea soup make up the meal for these students. Drinks however are not provided by the school and children must bring them from home.
So how does your experience with school lunch compare? Have you ever heard of such gourmet school meals before? What was your school meal like growing up? Which of these school lunches surprised you the most? We want to know!
Labor Day is an important historical federal holiday celebrated on the first Monday of September in the United States. As such, all schools, government offices, organizations, and many businesses are closed on this day. Its origins are as a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country. In the early 1880's labor unions in New York City first organized parades in celebration of the labor force after seeing the success of a similar holiday held in Canada. In 1887 the holiday became official in the U.S. Now more than 80 other countries celebrate a similar annual holiday, called International Workers Day, on May 1st. Click for a fun and informational History Channel Video of this American tradition. Not only does Labor Day serve as a celebration of the labor force in the U.S. today, but also as a marker for the end of summer, beginning of school, and start of the fall sports season.
Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as a symbolic end of summer. In the U.S. many school classes end their summer break and begin the school year after the Labor Day holiday, allowing families one last three-day weekend before the school year begins. The start of fall sports in the U.S. is also marked by this holiday. The National (American) Football League (or NFL) and National College Athletic Association (NCAA) starting their seasons and playing their first games the week of Labor Day.
Traditionally people did not wear white clothes, particularly shoes, (especially those of high society) after this date as it marked the close of summer and summer wardrobes. Nowadays this trend is slowly dying out as fashion trends now tend to include white clothing in styles for all seasons.
Privately, in many neighborhoods people take the opportunity to celebrate the last chance for summer outdoor parties such as BBQs, cookouts, and general festivities (to read more about these American summer outdoor traditions check out our blog!). Going to the beach, having picnics, watching parades and going to fairs or watching fireworks is also very common on this day and preceding weekend.
In Boston especially there are a number of public events ongoing in celebration of this holiday and the end of summer. The Boston Arts Festival takes place the weekend before Labor Day bringing visual and live entertainment together for an end-of-summer party that shows off Boston’s diverse and creative arts scene. The annual Labor Day weekend fireworks at the Boston Harbor take off the Saturday before Labor Day. In the North End a number of other feasts and festivals also take place on this weekend. Check out more celebratory events going on this year in Boston here!
So do you celebrate Labor Day? What is your favorite end of summer event? Do you know of any Boston events we missed? We want to know!
In the United States having an animal companion that shares a home, food, and sometimes even the bed with its owner while serving no utilitarian use (such as to catch mice or hunt) other than to serve as a companion is not only the not only the norm, but actually more common than not. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association, a trade group, 62% of American households own a pet. In the 1800's cats and dogs were kept on a properties of American and European bourgeois to serve as resources by killing mice or assisting with the hunt and were considered symbols of status. As the necessity for such services provided by these animals waned the numbers of these animals did not. And as technology and human communicational abilities continue to improve there is no reason to think they will be necessary in the future. So why do so many American households still have pets and why does the trend towards pet ownership continue to rise in the United States and internationally? NYU’s Colin Jerolmack speculates that it may be due to people’s decreasing connection to each other. In an era of online social networks, long work hours and distances between families, we have far fewer strong social ties and many more weak ties, he says. “We’re spending a lot more time alone or with our immediate family. The companionship of pets has become much more valuable today.” Pets have also become an easy to care for and unconditionally loving replacement for children. Many single people and couples without children replace this need for nurturing by owning a pet. In popular culture pets are idolized by figures such as Paris Hilton are photographed carrying satchels full of miniature dogs people begin to see the benefits of owning a pet as both a companion and status symbol which is then picked up on by the media and pet culture is yet exacerbated. In the United States there are now a huge number of products available to pets an pet owners from pet braces to car seats to jewelry and leather jackets. And with growing awareness about adoption and the positive health benefits of owning pets–including reducing stress and depression– there is a good chance more people will continue to treat them like extensions of their human selves. This trend is not only visible in the U.S., but is gaining popularity throughout the world. Japan has seen marked increases in pet ownership in recent years. France has almost as high of a percentage of pet households as those without pets. China has seen a huge boom in its pet trade show force in the past 3 years alone.
Despite this, the propensity for pet ownership still remains a largely American and Western cultural phenomenon. In many countries it would be uncommon and unwelcome to see a large dog on a walk with its owner. In areas where pets and dogs especially are uncommon such a large carnivorous animal sharing a house, much less a bed with a person is unheard of. This aversion to domesticated animal companions is largely religious and historical. The President of South Africa is quoted saying that ownership of dogs is "white culture" and that the South African people should not emulate this western cultural norm but rather uphold South Africa traditional culture. Although this may seem like a political statement, it emulates the feelings of many non-westernized culture based on the sentiment that pet ownership is s wasteful and needless use of resources. In many Muslim countries dog ownership in particular is taboo. There are various explanations for the reasons behind this depending on the various forms of Islam, but in general the ownership of a dog is considered against the religion and "unclean." For this reason people from Muslim countries have a tendency to avoid and sometimes even fear dogs. In these regions this pet culture will be very unlikely to gain popularity.
Here in Massachusetts, pet trends are also on the steady increase. Though unlike as seen in popular culture and the media, dogs are not the chosen pet of most of the New England states. Other common household pets in America include cats, rabbits, and various rodents and reptiles. In Massachusetts especially, cats are the most common type of animal companion to be found in a home. This may be due to their small size and ease of care it takes to own a cat compared to dogs. Despite this, the state maintains the national trend of the majority of households taking ownership of some form of pet, just don't be surprised to find a feline rather than a canine if you are interested in a pet-friendly homestay.
Because of the number of cultures and religions from which students participating in homestay come the question of pets in the household is a very important one. Students participating in Global Immersions Homestays not only must mark any allergies to animals, but also the desire for a home with pets or the need for one without pets. Conversely host families are required to mark on their application the variety and number of pets in their household and are required to update their application if changes regarding pets in the household are made to help ensure the comfort and compatibility of the student to their homestay. If you have any questions regarding pets in homestay please email us!
Sources: http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/15/pets-dogs-cats-forbes-woman-time-children.html, http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/07/28/mass-the-crazy-cat-lady-est-state-the-union/p2CEoZ52oIhXMH3lLNHPfJ/story.html
The United States is an extremely expansive country with vast regional variations in climate and geography, culture, ways of speaking, and traditions. From rocky coastlines to arid deserts, deep wooded forests to gentle rolling plains, tropical beaches to the highest peaks summer means something different in each region of the country. But amazingly, despite this broad spectrum of differences, many traditions remain intact throughout the country. Summer barbecues and cook-outs are some of these American cultural constants. With the Fourth of July a recent memory, barbecues, parties, bonfires, and cookouts have been popular ways for Americans to relax and enjoy the charms of summer as they have traditionally been doing for generations. For those of you new to these quintessential American summer past times, here's a brief guide:
BBQ's (or Barbecues)
The word barbecue has multiple meanings. First and foremost "barbecuing" using the verb is to slowly cook meat, especially pork, (sometimes vegetables too) over indirect heat from high-smoke fumes that don't contact the food directly. The component of barbecuing that causes it to differ from basic grilling of meat is the sauce. Barbecue sauces vary region to region, but most commonly are tomato and vinegar based with a variety of spices and rubbed onto the meat to soak up the flavor while cooking. Because of the length of cooking process and its messy tendencies due to the saturation of sauce, barbecuing is almost always done outdoors on a special type of grill that allows for this form of cooking. And from this style of cooking has arise "the barbecue". A barbecue (as a noun) is a social gathering in which family members and friends gather to mingle and eat various dishes outdoors while the weather is nice and someone (or multiple people) cook the barbecued food. Other common food items seen at barbecues include various forms of salads, such as a green salad, potato salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob, fruit salad, pies, and various other desserts. Because of the change of seasons common in most parts of the United States, taking advantage of the summer weather and therefore the ability to cook one of America's favorite dishes through barbecuing has become an event intrinsic to a classic American summer.
Cookout are a very similar American pastime during the summer. Cooking on a grill is also the deciding factor in the ability to denominate a gathering as a cookout since the food is grilled and thus cooked outside. Although this sounds very similar to a barbecue (and is considering that the type of gathering and side dishes tend to be very similar) the lack of specific barbecue sauce and special importance placed on the meat as the main part of the meal causes cookouts to tend to be much more casual. Many cookouts are small and impromptu and can happen on beaches, during camping trips, or in a back yard on any given day. Because of their ease of coordination cookouts are commonplace while American's are taking advantage of being able to spend considerable time outdoors due to the weather.
A bake is a New England and coastal version of a barbecue or cookout. A bake usually has the main type of protein being cooking preceding the word bake. For example, a lobster bake, a clam bake, etc. Bakes tend to only be considered a bake rather than a cookout because of the use of seafood. When a seafood is the main dish of the gathering it is usually boiled or baked on an outdoor fire or special cooking unit, like as is done at a lobster bake. A lobster bake would involve outdoor cooking in a large vat of boiling water over a fire or other heating surface. Because of the proximity to the coast and larger of abundance of seafood in comparison to domestic land animals, such as the pork used in barbecuing, bakes tend to be common in New England and other coastal areas.
Bonfires are another classic American summer event. Because of the amount of rural area in the United States with forested land, often times in these rural and wooded areas trees, branches, and other material needs to be cut or falls down and needs to be disposed of. Typically this material is burned. If it is on a person's private property it is common to pile all this material into a pile and burn it all at once. Often times this becomes a gather as other people add their own natural waste or simply to get together near a warm fire on a summer evening. Although bonfires have old age pagan connotations, today they are simply a way for people to get outdoors during the summer evenings and spend time together. Although food is not necessary for a bonfire, it is very common to see s'mores eaten at bonfires. S'mores are another American classic. The three components of a s'more is a marshmallow roasted over the open fire sandwiched between two graham crackers and chocolate. No summer in the United States is truly American without this delicious treat.
So have you attended one of these events? What is your favorite thing to eat at a barbecue, cookout, or bake? Have you ever heard of s'mores before? We want to know!
Jamaica Plain is one of the most diverse and dynamic historic neighborhoods in Boston. The oldest community theatre in the US, Footlight Club is located in this neighborhood. In the 19th century, Jamaica Plain became one of the first streetcar suburbs in America and home to a significant portion of Boston's Emerald Necklace of parks, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The commercial district, along Centre and South streets, reflects Jamaica Plain’s eclectic community of artists, writers, musicians, activists, young families, and indie-business owners. Fine dining and casual restaurants serve foods of Cuba, Scotland, India, Lebanon, Cambodia, Japan, and other international fare. Boutiques sell everything from kitchen gadgets to funky vintage attire to one-of-a-kind artisan crafts. This neighborhood's dynamic diversity has caused us to choose Jamaica Plain as our next Explore Boston location!
Jamaica Plain is just 3 miles or so from downtown, yet it has the most green space of anyplace in the city. The "Emerald Necklace" of the city was designed byFrederick Law Olmsted (also Central Park, NYC) and encompasses Franklin Park and surrounds, Forest Hills Cemetary, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond and all that attaches them together. In general, JP, as the locals call it, has tons of trees. Long ago, affluent Bostonians used JP as a summer vacation spot and many had second homes in the area. A number of historic sites also dot JP. Check them out!
- Jamaica Pond- A top location to go for a run or just enjoy the green space, oh and sailing too!
- Forest Hills Cemetary- An open-air museum with Victorian architecture
- The Arnold Arboretum- 281 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds
- Loring-Greenough House- For a sense of JP colonial history
Both fine and casual dining experiences are available throughout Jamaica Plain. From the famous J.P. Licks ice cream shop to fare from across the globe, you'll be sure to find anything and everything that suits your taste!
- J.P. Licks- Located in a former Victorian fire house, and enjoy homemade ice cream, fair trade house-roasted coffee, hot chocolate, and baked goods
- The Haven- Scottish fare with a New England twist
- Tres Gatos- Tapas style food with a new American flare
- El Oriental de Cuba- The best Cuban food around
- Blue Nile Restaurant- Delicious Ethiopian Cuisine
The shopping in JP reflects the artsy and eclectic community that makes up this neighborhood. Boutiques sell everything from the funky to the functional to the fun. Check out some of our top picks!
- Lucy Parsons Center- A local bookstore sure to have any book not found in the library
- 40 South Street- For all your all-vintage clothing needs
- Salmagundi- a full-service shop offering a selection of about 9,000 hats handpicked by the owners as well as a selection of accessories, including jewelry, handbags, dresses, ties, and gloves.
- Boomerangs- A thrift shop benefiting the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts
So hop on the Orange line and head to Jackson Square to check out these fun, delicious, historical, and beautiful locales and events while the weather is warm!
Have you been to Jamaica Plain before? Did we miss something? What is your favorite thing to do in Jamaica Plain? We want to know!
The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is one of the most celebrated American Holidays of the year. The holiday commemorates the U.S. adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 from the Kingdom of Great Britain making the U.S. an autonomous nation. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. In Boston, a free Boston Pops Concert at the Hatch Shell followed by a fireworks show on the Charles River is the 4th of July tradition. All over the country local celebrations are also head that combine traditional American celebrations with local flare. Check out National Geographic's list of the 9 best local Fourth of July Celebrations!
1. Independence, California
Harvard Square is one of the most iconic squares in the Boston area. It is the historic center of Cambridge. Adjacent to Harvard Yard, the historic heart of Harvard University, the Square (as it is sometimes called locally) functions as a commercial center for Harvard students, as well as residents of western Cambridge and the inner western and northern suburbs of Boston. These residents use the Harvard station, a major MBTA Red Line subway and bus transportation hub. Not only is Harvard Square's colonial architecture and small-town feel charming in its own classic New England right, but the proximity and shared name with that of arguably the most prestigious university in the U.S. has caused the business that make up the square uphold the standards set by such an iconic location. From burgers to coffee, Curious George to the Harvard Co-op Store, music festivals to Cambridge tours, Harvard Square has it all! We start our summer "Explore Boston" series with Harvard Square!
Festivals and Events
There are numerous festivals and events in the Harvard Square area! The Harvard Square community is constantly alive with various festivals and events throughout the summer. Here are some of the best events going on in the Square this summer:
1. The 7th Annual Make Music Harvard Square/ Fete de la Musique
The Harvard Square Business is gearing up to celebrate the summer solstice with the 7th Annual Make Music Harvard Square / Fête de la Musique. On June 21st, the streets of Harvard Square become a free, live music festival featuring more than 70 musicians from across the USA playing on 12 different stages. Festivities kick off at 2pm and come to a close at 10pm. - See more
2. Summer Solstice Celebration: Night at the Harvard Museum
Enjoy a fun evening of telescope viewings, music, and hands-on activities for all ages at the Harvard Plaza, with free evening admission to four HMSC museums --the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Harvard Semitic Museum, Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology. June 21st. More info
3. Cambridge Common Tour
Founded in 1631, Cambridge Common Park was once the common pasture for Old Cambridge. Later it served as an encampment for the Continental Army. Today it’s home to playgrounds and ball fields, surrounded by historic houses, churches, and buildings of Harvard University. We’ll explore nearly 400 years of history & architecture on our loop of Cambridge Common. July 21st. More info
After checking out some of these fun events, what's better than sitting down to a delicious meal? Harvard Square has numerous highly rated and amazingly delicious restaurants inspired by cuisines from around the world! Check out some of the bet places to grab a bite:
- Otto: Pizza lovers delight
- Veggie Planet: Delicious and a huge variety of vegan and vegetarian options
- Russell House Tavern: Classic American tavern food, but delicious
- Alden & Harlow: A refined twist on classic American
- Cafe Sushi: Some of the best Japanese around
- Border Cafe: Tex-Mex, Cajun/ Creole for those looking for some Southern comfort food
- Harvard Yard and University: An obvious must-see
- The Charles River: The beautiful river with a breath-taking view of Boston
- Mt. Auburn Cemetery: A National Historic Landmark
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Another of the most prestigious universities in the world
- Harvard Museum of Natural History: A beautifully maintained public museum
- Harvard Bookstore: A Square original
- Black Ink: Cards, stationary & toys- something for everyone!
- World's Only Curious George Store: An iconic American children's tale come alive in a toy store
- Goorin Bros.: Unique and beautifully crafted accessories and hats
- Planet Records: For all your musical needs
- The Harvard Co-op: For all your Harvard Square tourist needs
In this day and age eating individually packaged snack confections is a commonality across the globe, from the U.S. and its love for peanut butter filled chocolate cups to Japan's love for the wacky and often less than sweet "candies". Ever since the invention and following explosive popularity of the candy bar in the U.S. in the early 1900's other countries have taken this confectionery concept and morphed it into their own, culturally reflective versions of a sweet snack. As the concept of a candy has changed over time so have the varieties with some amazingly unique "candies" being developed today. Here is a compilation of some of the best and most bizarre of these candies from around the world.
Salmiakki - Finland
When visiting Australia, you can spot one of the most popular candies in almost every store. Its name is Violet Crumble. The name (as well as the wrapper color) was inspired by the chocolatier’s wife, whose favorite flower was the violet. This tasty treat is a chocolate bar with honeycomb toffee inside. It is famous because the way it is produced is very difficult. In order to make it, the factory has to make sure the honeycomb toffee doesn't stick to each other. It is so important that the package even says “it’s the way that it shatters that matters”!
This Norwegian treat is chocolate covered gel-and-banana cream. Nidar, the manufacturers, still use the same machine to give this treat it's banana shape that they used in 1957. A Krembanen looks the same to day as it did fifty-five years ago.
El Almendro Turron - Spain
This popular Spanish dessert’s recipe was first recorded in the Manual de Mujeres in the 16th century. This translates to The Woman’s Handbook. Personally, we’d like to get our hands on one of those in order to learn some feminine secrets. This dessert consists of egg whites, honey, and nuts. Pretty simple and pretty delicious.
Beacon Liqourice Allsorts- South Africa
This assortment of sweets is wildly popular in South Africa. In 1899, Carlie Thompson, a Beacon sales representative, supposedly dropped a tray of various samples he was showing to a client in Leicester, mixing up the different sweets. He scrambled to re-arrange them, but the client was intrigued by the blend. A less clever employee of Beacon came up with the slogan “All sorts love Allsorts” in the 1970s. Each bag has different flavors of licorice, different sizes, different shapes, different colors—it's like a bag of Legos you can eat.
So how do any of these candies sound to you? What's the weirdest treat you've ever tried? The best? We want to know!
And if you'd like to see more of these bizarre and delicious international treats click here. Websites to order some of these candies are also available!
This Monday, May 26th marks a very important national federal holiday for Americans- Memorial Day. This holiday, celebrated annually on the last Monday of May, is one of the oldest traditions in U.S. culture. Originally called 'Decoration Day' Memorial Day became a holiday after the American Civil War to commemorate the soldiers from both sides (Union and Confederate) who died during the war. Memorial Day has now been extended to honor all men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The U.S.'s pride, influence, and sheer number of members in the armed forces both past and present cause this holiday to be one of the most widely celebrated non-secular holidays in the country. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly those who have died in military service, and place flowers on their graves. There are often religious services on this day as well. As it is one of the first federal holidays at the beginning of summer months, this holiday is also used to mark the beginning of these summer vacation months. Traditionally families and friends gather to eat a picnic or have a cookout and often wear the national colors, red, white, and blue.
Parades are often also held on this day, especially in large cities such as Boston. Current members of the armed forces, veterans, marching bands, military vehicles from various wars, and an overall military theme is the norm for these parades. Other traditions include the lowering of the American flag to half-staff during the first half of the day on Memorial Day. Since the day is a federal holiday all government run offices and public schools are closed on this day.
So how do you plan on celebrating this special day? Will you be honoring the fallen soldiers with your family, or will you be marking the beginning of the summer months and heading to a friendly cookout like the one in the photo above? If you are in need of some ideas check out this list of 10 things to do in and around Boston on Memorial Day!
And don't forget to let us know how you celebrated!