Event brings solace in cultural diversity

Rajka Jobe is a Bosnian chef who moved to the United States more than a decade ago and has since experimented with various international-themed dishes. Jobe said she originally found American foods like Burger King and KFC to be “quite frankly, blah.”
Courtesy Photo

By Candy Rendon

Coming back after a successful year, the Cultural Foods & Dances Night is Saturday. Presented by Mission Waco, the program is designed to bring participants a smorgasbord of unique cultural foods and festivities for those desiring to participate in some culture surfing.

For those who have a hankering for new foods and developing long-lasting relationships in an exciting way, the Cultural Foods & Dances Night is designed for bringing a more international focus to campus.

According to the website, the event is occurring from both 6-7:45 p.m. or from 7-8:45 p.m. at the Jubilee Theatre, at 1319 N. 15th St.

Dr. Jimmy Dorrell is the executive director of Mission Waco and said the project previously has been well received.

“We had to divide it all up because so many showed up,” Dorrell said.

The night will begin with treats and flavorful samplings created by a handful of well-experienced chefs from Central Texas’ own Texas State Technical College’s culinary department to bring dishes that have been inspired by various nationalities and styles.

Rajka Jobe, a Bosnian chef who moved to the United States more than a decade ago, said the event is very rewarding. She emphasized the venue as being a place where one may challenge their boundaries.

“I want to expose them to different things by having them try new foods,” she said.

Having grown up around a very diverse locale in Bosnia and around the Balkans during her youth, Jobe found comfort in trying new foods. When her husband’s military services brought them to the United States, however, the fond memories of comfort food dissolved.

“I couldn’t figure out the fascination of it all,” Jobe said as she explained her first experiences with Burger King and KFC. “It was, quite frankly, blah.”

Desperate for some culinary consolation, Jobe sought for Bosnian and other European-style foods. Several years would go by before she discovered Café Pita in Houston.

“I had finally found my Holy Grail,” she said.

Because of the ease and relaxation that the foods of her youth had brought to her on that day, Jobe finds joy in creating new foods for the public now.

She is currently working on the Middle Eastern recipe for Baklava, a semi-sweet pastry made of phyllo dough, browned walnuts and raisins with cinnamon and sugar, in preparation for this weekend. Tomorrow she will finish up with the Polish dish Pirogi, a doughy dumpling filled with potatoes and onions.

The second half of each event will present a variety of choreographed moves and dances featuring several distinct cultures and styles.

Styles being represented include South Asian/Indian, Ethiopian/Eriteans, Turkish, Czech, Salsa, Mexican, Russian and Japanese inspired dance.

For those who have always wanted to try that bold new recipe but never had the opportunity for such an occasion, Cultural Foods & Dances Night might serve as that opportunity.

The dance aspect of the event may provide entertainment for both beginners and seasoned veterans.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for Saturday night’s festivities. The tickets cost $12 each at the door, but only $10 if you purchase in advance. The ticket reserves are limited to 200 seats per time slot, so advance purchase is recommended. Further information about the event can be found at wacowedoarts.com.