Preparing food from around the world is a family tradition at the Stephany household in Chilliwack.
So it wasn’t really a stretch for Erik Stephany, 15, to tackle the tantalizing topic, and wax eloquent for a creative writing contest.
He found out recently he took the top honours in the Langley International Festival Competition, for his piece entitled Culture on a Plate.
Stephany was awarded a $1,000 prize and a trophy by competition organizers, and the cash prize is going toward his burgeoning magic career and auditions for the Canada’s Got Talent show.
In the teen’s free verse poem, he explains that dinner is a “journey” where he and his family to experience cultures as yet unexplored — through the vehicle of different cuisines.
“We like to immerse ourselves in other cultures to better understand people we live with in this world,” he says.
The idea for Culture on a Plate just came to him in a flash.
“One of my favourite things in the world is food so it seemed to work out perfectly.”
Dinner is an activity everyone takes part in, and when his dad the chef gets out the cookbook, good times prevail.
Mom and dad plan out the week’s menu with a “golden list” stuck to the fridge, detailing the meals ahead.
It’s not only experiencing the food of different culture, it’s actually getting out there to seek out the special ingredients that make these dishes authentic.
“We go to Abbotsford for Indian food and spices, and we enjoy the joy of fishing on the river,” he says.
At his house, the Stephanys actually look forward to their leftovers.
“But I always finish my plate,” he says.
The dinner table takes them around the world, and back home again.
Here’s a taste of Culture on a Plate:
“We swelter from the chillies of the Caribbean
only to cool our palates with Grecian yoghurt.
“We slurp our way through vats of udon
and experience the euphoria known as curry buzz.
“Then, the creamy cheeses of Europe invite us back east
and the smoked sockeye salmon lures us home again.”