I walked into the small shop with the large windows and took a deep breath in through my nostrils. A warm and sugary swirl of baked goods calmly wafted by as my eyes fixated on the glass case sitting in front of me that was filled with freshly baked donuts, cupcakes, and loaves of sweetened bread. I walked behind the line of people who took their time ordering their breakfast and coffee with the hopes of snapping out of their drowsy state of shortened sleep.
A short woman with rounded cheeks smiled and peered out through the glass that sat below the marble counter. “How may I help you?”
“Hi, yes.” I gestured my finger towards the tire-shaped snacks in the glass case. “Can I get an assortment of a dozen and a half donuts?”
“Yeah,” she grabbed a familiar pink cardboard container and began loading a selection of donuts into the box. “Are these okay?” She tilted the box forward a bit towards my direction to reveal the glazed, chocolate covered, and jelly-filled treats that she had plucked from the rows of finely decorated deserts.
I peered into the box with a smile. “Yes, that’s fine.”
When I arrived to work that morning, my coworkers excitedly filed into the kitchen to grab a donut.
“Donuts!” One of the women from HR peered into the box and then set off to find the small paper plates for everyone to use. “How nice of you.”
The solemn moods about the morning quickly shifted upon learning that the donuts had been placed on the kitchen table for my small office of coworkers to enjoy. Emails of gratitude flooded in and several individuals walked up to my desk to personally thank me. It was just a quick extra stop along my way to the office, but the act of sharing food with them meant so much.
I thought about the encounters after I attended the city of Orange’s International Food Fair. Families, friends, neighbors from the community, and visitors flocked to the street fair filled with food representing places from all over the world. Flags from different countries flew side by side and the booths run by local organizations and restaurants blended in together as my family, and I seemly crossed the borderless ocean of delicious food.
I had grabbed a falafel from Lebanon while sipping sweet sodas from Mexico. I forgot to grab napkins and asked from some near Ireland before meeting up with my sister who was eating a Polish hotdog. We listened to music from an American Rockabilly band as we ate our Italian shaved ice and walked around the representations of the rest of the world before venturing back to our car.
There was a large crowd of smiling faces sipping chilled beers and cocktails as they enjoyed the opportunity to sample dishes from all over the globe. It was interesting to see how so many different people were casually enjoying the range of cultures through the varying cuisines that were being cooked and served at the street fair. The assortment of food had crossed the mental and physical barriers that separated people of varying skin tones, religions, languages, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, and the like. The act of sharing food brought these people together in its own rebellious act of uniting those who are different from each other, and it tore down the hatred that tends to seep out from behind ignorance and lack of empathy.