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Free Events in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival

Boston is well known as a city with lots to do – all easily accessible by the MBTA. It could be the variety of our neighborhoods, the many institutions of higher learning, or the fact that Boston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Whatever the reason, there’s always a good event to inspire you to get out and explore. The best part - they’re often free! At Global Immersions we are always looking for ways for our visitors to learn more about Boston, and for our hosts to share the experience. We search high and low for events all over the city, and are always finding fun, cultural, educational and low cost activities. Here’s a quick guide:

Boston.com is the go-to site for “things to do in Boston”. You have the option of picking events, music, restaurants, or just plain free! You can also target a specific neighborhood or day, so you can find exactly what you want, when you want it. Their calendar also offers a user friendly way of searching upcoming Boston area activities.

For people who are more interested in Boston’s sub-culture than the everyday tourist, the newspaper The Phoenix offers an online calendar that focuses on local’s events. It's also easy to navigate - you can pick what type of event you’re looking for, the place and the neighborhood. They don't offer a specifically free section, but we enjoy the ideas for food "on the cheap"

  

Feast Days in the North End

The site “21 Free Things to do in Boston” is a great hub for free activities. Our favorite comes from all of Boston’s history and diversity, which means most months there are parades and festivals catering to any interest.  Here’s a quick (and very incomplete) list:

  • Lion Dance Parade – mid-February- Chinatown
  • St. Patrick's Day Parade - mid-March - South Boston
  • Boston Marathon - April (third Monday) - Copley Square
  • Patriots Day Parade- April (third Monday) - City Hall Plaza
  • May Fair - May - Harvard Square, Cambridge
  • Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill - May (third Thursday) - Beacon Hill
  • Street Performers Festival - Late May - Faneuil Hall
  • Performing Arts Series at Hatch Shell - June - Esplanade
  • Scooper Bowl (Ice Cream Festival) - early June - City Hall Plaza
  • Dragon Boat Festival - June (second Sunday) - Charles River
  • Cambridge River Festival - mid-June - Banks of the Charles River
  • Boston Harborfest - July 4th week - Boston Harbor
  • Italian Feast days - July - North End
  • Boston Pops 4th of July Concert and Fireworks - July 4th - Esplanade
  • Copley Square Concerts - July
  • Boston Caribbean Carnival - August (third weekend) - Franklin Park
  • Italian Feast Days - August - North End
  • Copley Square Concerts - August
  • Boston Arts Festival - September (second weekend) - various venues
  • Boston Blues Festival - late September - Banks of the Charles
  • Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival - late September - South End
  • Columbus Day Parade - early October - East Boston - Downtown
  • Head of the Charles Regatta - late October - Cambridge

Head of the Charles in Cambridge

Jordan Hall at NEC

Besides all of these events, you can tour the State Housevisit a museum, see a concert at the New England Conservatory, or take a tour of Harvard  – all for free. And this is just the beginning! Like our Facebook and follow our Go Global blog for many more ideas to get out and explore Boston! 

Mardi Gras Around the World!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Its Mardi Gras season! Also known as Carnival, or Carnaval, the season is a part-religious, part-cultural holiday celebrated differently throughout the world, but usually includes parades, masks and costumes. In the U.S, Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday” was celebrated yesterday, while today is known as “Ash Wednesday.” “Fat Tuesday” refers to the tradition of eating rich, fatty meats before the Christian season of Lent, which officially starts on Ash Wednesday. The name “Carnaval” also derives from the Christian tradition of giving up meat for Lent – “Carne Vale” means “goodbye to meat” in Latin.  

Germany

The celebration of Mardi Gras in Germany is called Karneval, Fastnacht, or Fasching, depending on the region. Fastnacht means "Eve of the Fast", but all three terms cover the whole carnival season with famous parades held in Cologne, Mainz, and Düsseldorf on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, called Rosenmontag (Rose Monday). In the regions where Fastnacht is celebrated, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called "Schmotziger Dunnschtig" (Schmotziger Dienstag) which is a straight translation from Mardi Gras (Greasy, fatty Tuesday).


Carnaval in a sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil

Carnaval is the most famous Brazilian holiday. During this time period Brazil attracts 70% of its tourists. Variations in Carnaval celebrations are observed in Brazilian cities but all include the famous dance samba into the celebrations. The southeastern cities of Brazil have massive parades that take place in large sambadromes. The largest Carnaval celebration in the world occurs in Rio de Janeiro, where two million people are found celebrating in the city. The city of Salvador also holds a large Carnaval celebration.

Italy

In Italy Mardi Gras is called Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday). It's the main day of Carnival along with the Thursday before, called Giovedí Grasso (Fat Thursday), which officially starts the celebrations. The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice and in Viareggio. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, citing its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Italian version of the festival is spelled Carnevale.

Sweden

In Sweden the celebration is called Fettisdagen. It comes from the word "fett" (fat) and "tisdag" (Tuesday). Originally, this was the only day one should eat semlor, a traditional Scandinavian sweet roll. These are now sold in most grocery stores and bakeries preceding the holiday, and up until Easter.


Mardi Gras in the French Quarter of New Orleans

The United States

In America the holiday is not celebrated nationally, but is extremely popular in the ethnic French regions, especially in the southern states that were once a French territory.  New Orleans is know as the Mardi Gras capital of the U.S and the whole week is celebrated with parades. 

source: wikipedia 

Year of the Snake - Chinese New Year

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lion Dance Parade in Boston
"Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is also known as the 'Spring Festival', the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally ran from Chinese New Year's Day itself, the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. The evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year". This year's Chinese New Year's Day falls on February 10th. The New Year will be the year of the snake."

"Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festival in the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is celebrated in China and in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar New Year celebrations of its geographic neighbors."

Did you know?

  • According to the legend, Chinese New Year began with a battle against a mythical beast called Nian. Nian would always come to terrorize villages on the first day of New Year, eating wild stock, crops and even children. To protect themselves villagers would leave food in front of their doors, with the hope that Nian would be filled. They also noticed he wouldn't eat children wearing red, and was scared by loud noises like firecrackers. As a result villagers would hang red lanterns, make lots of food and light off firecrackers, all Chinese New Year traditions that continue to this day. 
  • The first through 15th days of the New Year all celebrate different things. Some people celebrate the second day as the birthday of all dogs. The eighth day is when people are supposed to resume going to work and school. The 13th day is celebrated by eating all vegetarian food, and in Malaysia and Singapore, the 15th day is marked a sort of eastern Valentine’s Day.
  •  The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the oldest and largest event of its kind outside of Asia, and the largest Asian cultural event in North America.
  • In China, so many people travel from urban to rural areas to visit their families for the New Year that their commute is the largest annual migration in the world. 

Chinese New Year's in Boston

Boston has the third largest Chinese community in the U.S, so New Year’s is a time of great celebration! The Chinatown neighborhood is located within the boundaries of Downtown Crossing, the South End and runs adjacent to the Theatre and Leather Districts. It is easy accessible by the Orange Line Chinatown stop. There is no shortage of restaurants available for traditional New Year’s dishes such as dumplings, noodles, and smoked meat.  Nearly every corner has a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal. For a New Year’s favorite, the annual Lion Dance Parade is particularly popular

NOTE: this year’s parade will be held on February 17th, not the 10th! 
source: wikipedia 

Words with no English Translation

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Learning a new language can be a lengthy and complex process, and becoming truly fluent is a real challenge. Even if you think you are fluent, you still may pronounce words incorrectly. If this is your first time in Boston, you will probably pronounce the town of “Worcester” like it’s spelled, but to a Boston native it’s “Wooster”. Do you know anybody who lives in the state of Oregon? You might pronounce the “on” like in “gone,” but they say the “on” like the “un” in “begun”. These are call shibboleths – words that people who unfamiliar with their pronunciation may say incorrectly. If you find words like this interesting, look at a full list of shibboleths, in a number of languages. To further demonstrate the many nuances of language we compiled list of foreign words with no English equivalents, you can read a past blog entry here. There are many words with no direct translation into English, and here are a few more examples:

Seigneur-terraces (French)

Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money.


Ya’arburnee (Arabic)

This word is the hopeful declaration that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot stand to live without them. Literally, may you bury me.

Schlimazel (Yiddish)

Someone prone to bad luck. Yiddish distinguishes between the schlemiel and schlimazel, whose fates would probably be grouped under those of the klutz in other languages. The schlemiel is the traditional maladroit, who spills his coffee; the schlimazel is the one on whom it's spilled.

L’esprit de l’escalier (French)

Literally, stairwell wit—a too-late retort thought of only after departure

Hygge (Danish)

Denmark’s mantra, hygge is the pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends.


Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)



The result of attempting to revive an unworkable relationship. Literally, reheated cabbage.

Bilita Mpash (Bantu)


An amazing, pleasant dream. Not just a "good" dream; the opposite of a nightmare.


Murr-ma (Waigman, language of Australia)

To walk alongside the water while searching for something with your feet.

Source: mental floss

Culture Shock for International Students

Global Immersions - Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Now that it’s January, many international students are coming to study in Boston!  Whether they are returning after the winter holidays or arriving for the first time, it is not uncommon for seasonal blues, homesickness and culture shock to set in.  Why is this?  More importantly, what can be done to overcome it?

English fluency appears to strongly affect homesickness.  As the stress of learning English is an ever-present challenge for many international students, these students often find themselves longing for the ease of speaking and learning in their native tongue.  This pressure in social and academic situations to speak English can be the reason alone why a visitor seems a bit down.

Academic performance is another stressor that affects culture shock in international students.  The role of classroom participation in American culture may be new to international students, many of whom are used to just passively listening to the lessons.  Differences in essay-writing styles, exams and coursework level of difficulty are other factors relating to this.  Students who are struggling in certain courses, or those overwhelmed by the start of a new semester, may experience bouts of culture shock this time of year.

If a student has returned to his or her native country over the winter holidays and is now back in Boston, another wave of culture shock may roll in.  At this point, the differences between the two cultures will be more pronounced and fresh in the student’s mind.  After returning to that sense of familiarity and comfort back in the home country, the student may not be ready or excited to be back in the United States. 

International students may be a bit down this time of year simply because it is winter.  Days are short and dark, it’s cold outside, and it is a common time of year to get sick.  For visitors from countries near the Equator, they may find the cold winters in the Northeastern United States to be a bit of a shock.  Likewise, visitors whose native countries are in the Southern Hemisphere may be sad to be missing summer weather and time off from school back home.

Much of culture shock and seasonal depression stems from the visitor’s individual personalityIf your visitor is naturally quiet and spends most time studying or in a private bedroom, take each opportunity to make the visitor feel included in your family’s events.  This could be as simple as helping to prepare dinner or watching a movie/television together. 

While culture shock may not be the most fun experience for the visitor, this time period is a crucial opportunity to bond and develop strong relationships with the host family.  One of the best benefits of living with a host family is the knowledge that family can provide.  For instance, international visitors expect locals to have information on how to get places, recommended sites to visit, and other quirks of the culture.  The student also sees the family as a great resource to help them practice their English and help with their studies.  The more you can interact with your visitor in these ways, the better.

Here are suggestions for a homestay visitor to deal with culture shock.   Keep a journal Not only is writing a release of emotions, but having a personal record of reactions to an intercultural experience will soon become invaluable to the visitor once the experience is over.  Teach the host family about their home culture This can be done through dinnertime conversations or showing them a personal item, sharing images, holiday celebrations or a favorite food dish from home.  That way, the visitor can stay connected to the home country while the host family learns something new.  A win-win as we say!

Culture shock during a visitor’s stay is cyclical.  The initial reaction to a new culture is always the biggest shock, but it is not uncommon for culture shock to reappear in smaller doses throughout the visit.  Unless the visitor has just arrived, chances are that the shiny newness of attending school in the United State has worn off by now and that the visitor is realizing American life for what it really is.  You do not need to be an international visitor to know that winter here can often bring on seasonal blues and sadness.  Therefore, since we’re all stuck inside on these cold days, take the opportunity to speak with your visitor about culture shock.  Contact us if you have other suggestions or ways to overcome culture shock or how you as a homestay visitor have managed culture shock!

Sources: Compelling Counseling, The Psychology of Culture Shock, The International Student Blog

New Year's Eve Celebrations Around The World!

Global Immersions - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, it is once again that time of year when we look both backwards and forwards.  We remember things good and bad throughout 2012 and always hope for a better year to come.  However, on New Year’s Eve itself, most people around the world are celebrating rather than reminiscing.  Let’s take a look at some of the celebrations around the world on this festive night!

            

             Fireworks over Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia

Fireworks are a major trend globally, as the pyrotechnic displays are a colorful crowd-pleaser!  This is seen in places as diverse as Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia; the River Thames in London, England; the Red Square in Moscow, Russia; and on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Other cities’ traditions are more unique.  For instance, New York City is renowned for its’ glamorous ball, lighted with thousands of sparkling lights, that descends on a pole in the final minute before midnight.  The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China is illuminated in a spectacular light show.  Last year in Tokyo, a crowd standing in front of the Tokyo Tower released several helium balloons into the night air.  Each balloon was attached with a note of that person’s hopes for the coming year.  In South Korea, a traditional fire ceremony was held last year. 

                                

                                 Balloons Released in Tokyo, Japan

In Scotland, Hogmanay is a word referring to end-of-year celebrations.  One of these celebrations is the Viking Festival that takes place in Edinburgh, with men wearing traditional Viking attire and parading through the streets carrying flaming torches.  Last year, the number 2012 was written with sparklers in the night air of Vienna, Austria.  In a final example, Madrid, Spain is home to the tradition of eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12.

              

           Hogmanay Viking Celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland

Many New Year’s Eve celebrations are annual traditions in major cities.  With most of these being held outdoors to accommodate large crowds, weather is an important factor, especially as the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing short, dark and cold winter days.  Where there are crowds, one can also expect to deal with both security and added hassles as well.  However, all in all, New Year’s Eve promises to be a festive cultural experience around the world!  If you have any great stories of New Year’s Eve celebrations, please feel free to share with Global Immersions!  Happy New Year!

Sources: BBC; Telegraph

Holiday Celebrations in December

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 13, 2012

Long before the world’s major religions dominated the holidays, December was a time of year filled with celebrations! Today many religions have major holidays in the month of December, and along with a variety of secular celebrations, December is one of the most festive months of the year. If you’re not a big fan of the cold and snow in Boston, celebrate all of these holidays – what a better way to add some warmth to the darkest month of the year! Share your holiday stories with Global Immersions! 


People have long celebrated the Evergreen's ability to stay green all winter


Winter Solstice – December 21 - 22

In the northern hemisphere, the shortest day, and longest night, falls on the 21 or 22 day of December . This natural phenomenon has been celebrated for millennia – ancient peoples who worshiped the sun thought that it grew sick during the winter. Celebrating the solstice meant the sun was getting better and the days would get longer. Evergreen trees with their ability to stay “ever-green” were celebrated as a reminder that planets would grow again once the sun was strong enough. This veneration of the evergreen tree continues to this day with Christian Christmas trees!

The Nativity Church in Bethlehem 


Christmas – December 25

Christmas is celebrated by Christians and the various Christian denominations as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Today Christians celebrate by attending Church or Mass on Christmas eve or day, sharing presents under a Christmas tree and spending time with their families. Houses are usually filled with celebratory decorations like manger scenes, Christmas lights, stockings, mistletoe and Christmas cookies. Depending on which country you live in, presents are delivered by Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Sinterklas. All of these names derived from the 4th century Saint Nicolas, the Archbishop of Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey). His acts of secret charity prompted the tradition of giving presents.


Music is an important part of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa – December 26 to January 1

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday held mostly in North America that celebrates African unity, heritage and culture. It is a secular holiday created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966. The name Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means the first fruits of the harvest. Each of the seven days represents one of seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba, which include self-determination, creativity, unity and purpose, to name a few. All week African heritage is celebrated and the holiday culminates in a feast and gift giving.


Ganesha, the Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture


Pancha Ganapati – December 21 to 25

Pancha Ganapati is a modern day Hindu festival that celebrates Lord Ganesha, the Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. During each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, a special sadhana, or spiritual discipline, is focused upon by the entire family. Because of the festival’s importance as a new beginning and mending of all past mistakes, a shrine is created in the main living room of the home and decorated in the spirit of this festive occasion. Children play a large role in the festival and each day they prepare a tray of sweets, fruit and incense as an offering to Ganesha, make cards that have art or verses from the Vedas and share small gifts.            

                                                                                             sources: lib.edu, wikipedia, history.com

Happy Hanukkah!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 06, 2012


This Saturday, December 8th marks the first of eight days of Hanukkah! Hanukkah, which can also be spelled Chanukah, is celebrated on  25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The holiday is observed by progressively lighting each arm of the Menorah at sunset. In the religious sense, Hanukkah is not as significant as the High Holidays or other Jewish celebrations, but it has become an important part of the Jewish identity, especially in North America. Besides lighting the Menorah, Hanukkah rituals are both family based and communal – there are special additions to the daily prayer service and the blessing before a meal, and many families exchange gifts, but it is not celebrated like the Sabbath and adherents go to work and school as usual.  

The events that inspired Hanukkah took place around 2,000 years ago! In 200 B.C Judea, also known as the land of Israel, came under the control of control of Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria. He allowed Jews who lived there to continue to practice their religion, but his son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes wasn’t as accommodating. In 167 B.C he outlawed Jewish rituals and built an alter to Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem. His actions provoked a rebellion lead by the Jewish priest Mattathias and after he died, his son, Judah Maccabee. By 165 B.C the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid Empire was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated and the festival of Hanukkah, meaning “to dedicate” was instituted to celebrate this event. According to the Talmud, the Jewish holy book, Judah Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Temple saw the Menorah’s flames burn for eight nights, despite there being only a little oil. Early Jewish elders then proclaimed the “dedication” or Hanukkah to be celebrated for eight days.    

Today, foods fried in oil like the potato pancake latkes and jelly filled sufganiyot are eaten to commemorate this miracle. On each of the eight nights a candle is added to the Menorah, the ninth candle in the middle called the shamash (“helper”) is used to light the others. 

This year, Hanukkah will be celebrated December 8 - 16, 2012. If you take part in the holiday, make sure to include your visitor! Share any Hanukkah stories with Global Immersions, and enjoy the holidays! 

source: wikipedia, history.com


American Thanksgiving!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Thursday, November 22nd Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving - a time for food, family and giving thanks for the last year. The story behind the modern Thanksgiving is uniquely American, and one that school children can recite from memory - but some of us may need a reminder!      


According to popular tradition in September of 1620 a ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, destined for the New World. It carried 102 people, mostly an assortment of religious separatists lured by the promise of religious freedom and open land. The ship was sailing towards the Hudson River basin but strong winds took it off track and 66 days after departure the Pilgrims, as they are now known, dropped anchor off the coast of Cape Cod. A month later they sailed across the Massachusetts Bay and started building a settlement in Plymouth.  The Pilgrims were unprepared to live in the New World and had to rely on Native Americans from the Abenaki, Pawtuxet and Wampanoag tribes to teach them how to gather food and build homes in their settlement. 

Under the guide of these tribes in November of 1621 the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest was successfully gathered. The governor of the new settlement, William Bradford, called for a feast and invited their Native American allies to the meal, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Tradition has it that this was the first “Thanksgiving”, although the meal wasn't called by that name and the menu was quite different than a traditional Thanksgiving today! Bradford’s men had gone on a “fowling hunt” that day and probably came back with goose or duck. The Wampanoag’s brought 5 deer, and together they most likely ate local foods like yams, sweet potatoes and shellfish. 

For the next two centuries random days of “thanksgiving” were celebrated at different times, but often for religious reasons, by the colonies. In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the American government and in 1863 Abraham Lincoln told Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving at the height of the Civil War as a way to “heal the wounds of the nation”. President Roosevelt signed the bill marking the fourth Thursday of November as the official day for Thanksgiving.

           

Today Thanksgiving has lost much of its religious significance and focuses simply on sharing a big meal with family and friends. Turkey is most often the centerpiece of the meal, and around 90% of Americans will eat turkey this Thursday! Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Parades, particularly the Macy's Day Parade in New York City are extremely popular. It's estimated that 3 million people will watch the parade in New York, with another 50 million tuning in on T.V! If you’re a visitor here in Boston this is a great opportunity to share a bountiful traditional American meal and spend time with your host’s family! Share any experiences you have with Global Immersions! 

source: History Channel 

Americans Love Sandwiches

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, November 15, 2012


It's true – American’s really do love sandwiches. You can get a variation of a sandwich just about anywhere in the world, but nowhere else is the sandwich such a staple of the lunchtime meal. Part of the homestay experience is trying new foods, and unless the visitor is completely opposed, we often suggest trying to make a sandwich that includes some familiar foods from home. Perhaps if you know the history behind sandwiches you’ll be able to demonstrate that while American’s might love sandwiches, they’re really a global meal.

Common wisdom holds that the “first” sandwich can be traced back to Rabbi Hillel the Elder, who in the 1st centrury B.C took lamb and herbs and sandwiched them between two pieces of matzo. “In simply interpreting a biblical mandate—‘They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the first; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it’—Rabbi Hillel unknowingly invented the ‘Hillel sandwich’ that has grown into one of the most important elements of the modern Passover Seder”. In Europe in the middle ages, what we consider an open faced sandwich today was fed to beggars and dogs – most often stale pieces of bread, or “trenchers,” smothered with meat. Sandwiches continued to make appearances all over Europe, from George Peele’s 1595 play The Old Wives Tale, to London’s men’s club the Shakespeare Tavern to John Montague, the 4th Earl of… Sandwich. However, American innovation really carried the sandwich to the prominence it enjoys today. In 1928 Iowa inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented a machine that could both slice and wrap bread, making bakeries more efficient while also preventing the bread from going stale. Sandwiches quickly became a lunchtime favorite all over the country.



What about some of America’s most beloved sandwiches – the ubiquitous PB&J or the equally as popular grilled cheese? Mashing peanuts into paste for food was a technique used by the ancient Incas. In 1897 Kellogg's applied for a patent for "nutmeal", another variation of peanut better. But the peanut butter we know today first made its appearance at the 1904 World’s Fair and quickly become trendy in upscale Manhattan restaurants. In the 1920’s and ’30s brands like Skippy and Peter Pan were born, and thanks to the newly available pre-sliced bread, spreading peanut butter over bread made a cheap and easy snack. Believe it or not the jelly aspect was first introduced during WWII on American military’s rations list. The soldiers became so fond of the sandwiches they continued to make them after the war ended. Today the PB&J is lauded as a relatively healthy meal, provided the bread is whole grain, the jelly has only natural sugars and the peanut butter has only “good” fat. 



Grilled cheese recipes can be found in ancient Roman texts, and the French have long been fond of their famous croque monsieurs, but the wonderfully gooey grilled cheese is truly American.  Combine the innovation of Rohwedder and the processing prowess of James L. Kraft, who opened his first factory in Illinois in 1914, and you have the capabilities to make an American cheese grilled cheese. The first “toasted cheese” or “melted cheeses” were open faced. Like the PB&J they were first popularly served to soldiers during the World Wars, as instructed by government issued cookbooks. It wasn’t until 1949 that Kraft introduced the game changing individually wrapped slices of cheese and a second piece of bread was added, creating the modern “grilled cheese”.  

Today, lunch wouldn’t be the same without PB&J or grilled cheeses. As a visitor in America, you may be weary, but you should try to introduce these lunchtime classics as a way to augment your American experience. Hosts should encourage their visitors to try new things. Remember, conversations about food are always a great gateway to learning more about each other’s cultures. Do you have any unique ways of combining American lunches with foreign favorites? Share them with Global Immersions!



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