An Interview with SIWA’s International Culinary Exchange (ICE) founder Michelle Morris
Michelle Morris is an active SIWA member originally from Korea. She currently serves as the Public Relations co-chair, a member of the Event and Tour committee, and is the founder of the International Culinary Exchange Group for SIWA.
Michelle moved to America in 1980 after marrying an American. She spent the next three decades raising a family there. In 2009, once her kids had grown, she decided to return to Korea, this time as a foreigner, to obtain a masters degree in Korean History. She has lived in Korea ever since.
During her studies, Michelle took a course called “Cultural Study through Ethnic Food.” This course enabled her to learn the true significance of food to a person’s culture. “My professor would say, ‘You are what you eat’ and as I studied I learned the significance of this statement. Food is a representation of culture.”
Through this philosophy, Michelle created the International Culinary Exchange Group. “Since SIWA is an International women’s group, a great way to learn all different cultures and traditions is by exchanging culinary skills. Our group meets on the third Friday of each month. A SIWA member hosts the event at their home, or an arranged location, and demonstrates how to make traditional recipes. “
Following this, guests sit down to eat the freshly made meal. The host then shares her insight on her country’s culture and traditions. Through great food and fellowship new ideas, history, culture and friendships are shared. “Conversations have expanded from food, holidays, culture and tradition to politics and to immigration. Through this program an array of ideas has been exchanged. Food becomes the window into one’s culture. What better way to share and learn within our international sisters.“
International Culinary Exchange has been meeting for almost a year. The program has had an array of hosts from across the world. An American coming from New Orleans wowed SIWA members with stories about the city’s colorful culture and cooked up tasty Creole cuisines. A member from India had members sporting her country’s traditional dress as they cooked curries and other delicious dishes in her kitchen.
Recently, a member hosted a memorable exchange of European chocolate. “In Europe, locals make chocolates for holidays in a manner similar to Koreans making mondoo for Chuseok or Americans baking cookies for Christmas. When a SIWA member approached me and told me her specialty was making chocolate I said ‘Why not do an exchange revolving around that?’It is all about what you are familiar with and helping others discover it You do not necessarily have to be the best cook to participate in the program or to be a host”.
Cultural Culinary Exchange group is open to all SIWA members. 10 participants can sign up each month using SIWA’s website. There is a 20,000 KRW fee per person to cover cost of ingredients. If you would like more information or to be a host contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.