Welcome to the International Diners Club!
During the pandemic, we all began asking ourselves what we can do to keep AFS members engaged. In response, one team created a virtual diners club—here’s how it works.
Each month you choose a country and set a menu including a starter, entrée, sides, and a dessert. The idea is to learn about the culture and styles of cooking around the world. All recipes are made from scratch, including doughs, pasta, sauces, fillings, etc. People can choose to make as few or as many as they have the time for before the monthly call.
Everyone takes pictures of the dishes, and family members that helped, etc. and if they like, they can share it all on Facebook or other social media sites, to build awareness of intercultural exchange and AFS. After, hop on a scheduled zoom call to discuss the experience and success of the dishes. On the call everyone votes on the next country, and it starts all over the following month.
Here are the steps you can take to start a club in your chapter, team, region or maybe just a group of friends.
- Pick a country from the International Diners Club section in Help & Learning.
- Select a date for the Zoom call.
- Create a Google Form for the registration.
- Create an email invite, including the link to the recipes and a link to register for the Zoom call.
- Check in once during the month to encourage participation. (Sign up if you haven’t, be sure to post pics on Facebook, invite a friend, etc.)
- 24-48 hours before the time for the call, send an email with the Zoom link for the call to the people that registered to join that call. (If you are experiencing limited attendance, consider sending a reminder email with the link the day of the call, a few hours before the meeting time, to ensure the Zoom link is at the top of their inbox.)
- When holding the call, you may want to use the menu as a discussion guide to move through the items, but once your group is more established you won’t feel the need to control the direction of the conversation.
- Be sure to vote on the next country before ending the call. You can set up a poll in Zoom with the choices listed so it feels more anonymous.
We'll be adding new countries' recipes each month, so check back soon! Click each link below to see the recipes and learn more about each country and its culinary practices and history.
Colombia isn’t just diverse in its animal and plant life. It’s unique. Over 9,100 species can ONLY be found in Colombia. From the Cotton-Top Tamarin to the Amazonian River dolphins there are many interesting animals that don’t exist outside the country's borders. Also, music is a huge part of everyday life in the country. So it’s no surprise the largest organized annual salsa event happens here. The World Salsa Festival in Cali, Colombia draws over 44,000 people to the 4-day event.
Whether you are planning a quiet dinner for the family or inviting over neighbors and friends, try some international versions of dishes you may already make—BBQ chicken (Thailand), spicy potato salad (Caribbean), hamburgers (Japanese). You can find the menu and recipes here.
Take pictures and collect stories about the recipes so we can start the year off with a BBQ review! You can also share the fun by posting them on Facebook or Instagram.
The Philippines are a series of 7,641 islands found in western part of the Pacific Ocean known as SouthEast Asia. The culture and food have been influenced by Spanish and American Colonial rule (1565-1946). Rice is a staple in Filipino cuisine as well as fish, cassava, eggplant, pork and other meat. Dishes like paella & flan show the influence of the Spanish and Portuguese. Sinigang (soup) & Adobo are national favorites.
Common ingredients found in Latvian dishes include potatoes, wheat, barley,
cabbage, onions, peas, eggs and pork. Because of the pronounced four seasons, Latvian food is distinctly seasonal.
Interesting facts about Latvia
- Ice Hockey is the most popular sport with Basketball coming in second
- There are 85 men to every 100 women in Latvia
- Lettish has been the official language since 1918
- The first written record of a ‘Christmas Tree’ dates back to 1510 in Riga
The Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is often referred to as “the land of smiles”. Thailand, like many other countries in southeast Asia, has many street vendors. People eat delicious and healthy snacks throughout the day rather than cooking at home. Rice is eaten everyday. In fact when you greet someone, it literally translates to, “Have you eaten rice?”
Fun Facts you may not know about Thailand
- Thailand was known as Siam until 1939 (and again between 1945-49)
- Siamese cats are native to Thailand
- It is illegal to leave the house without underwear
- Muay Thai Boxing is known as “the art of eight limbs”
This month is a journey to Greece. When I think of the food in Greece staples like
honey, spinach, olives, aubergines, lamb, feta & nuts come to mind. We hope this
month’s tasting tour gives us a chance to try some old favorites and maybe try something new.
Iceland has a variety of interesting foods. Some we plan to try while others we will just mention. For some of the more traditional foods like fermented shark, sheeps head, or ram’s testicle we will leave it up to you if you would like to be adventurous and give them a try. In the meantime, we will try such staples as Rye bread, baked fish, and caramelized potatoes and bread.
Some interesting facts about Iceland:
- Iceland was the last place on earth to be settled by humans
- Many Icelanders believe in elves and trolls
- Iceland has the longest work week in the Europe–45 hours a week
- 1 in 10 Icelanders will publish a book
- Northern lights can be seen from September to March
Swiss food has strong influences from French, German and Northern Italian cuisines, as well as from having been an agricultural country. That’s why many traditional Swiss dishes center on a few basic but delicious ingredients, such as potatoes and Swiss cheese. It’s likely that you have already been enjoying various Swiss foods— for example, they invented cheese fondue and are well known for their chocolate. Quiches and tarts are also very popular and wild game is still popular on the menu. A fun fact: in Switzerland, there are more than 450 varieties of cheese and 400 types of bread.
Brazil is a very diverse country, and its food reflects that. Brazil is famous for its Bahian food, with a combination of Portuguese and African influences. In this style of cooking, Brazilians mix together the ingredients in one pot and then serve them over a bed of rice or cornmeal. Also, Brazil has a huge selection of tropical fruits and is the world's largest producer of coffee. Brazilian people are known for being friendly and family-oriented, and spending quality time together during meals as a family is valued.
Azerbaijan is a small country with a rich history. Located on the Caspian sea, it
borders Iran, Armenia, Turkey, Georgia, and Russia. They are a country located on
the boundaries of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. This has influenced their food
greatly with staples like yogurt, fresh vegetables, dried fruits, fish from the
Caspian sea and meat such as lamb and beef, and rice. Black tea is the national
drink. Meals are not usually served as courses but typically are served all at once.
Because of the formatting for this series we are leaving it in courses for an easier
search of the dishes.
The Indonesian kitchen is extremely functional, and cooking is a relaxed affair, with simplicity at the core of all the dishes. There is an open‐minded attitude towards ingredients and preparation ‐ no strict rules, no right or wrong ingredients, just an understanding that most dishes begin with a spice paste, laced with chilies. Street food is popular in the cities, and most Indonesians eat at least one meal out each day. This is not surprising, given the dazzling range of tempting snacks on offer at stalls and roving vendors on every street.
Finland is a Nordic country and shares borders with Sweden, Russia, and Norway on the northern border. In Finland the best way to describe the cuisine is seasonal, local, and healthy. The diet consists of whole grains, seasonal fresh berries and vegetables, fish, and meat.
The Czech Republic has a very traditional meat-and-potatoes cuisine, with dishes heavy on gravies and root vegetables. Winter is perhaps the best time to try Czech food when hearty soups take center stage. Known for their dumplings, Czech traditional foods also include carp and wild mushrooms from the forest.
Holidays are always a time of sharing traditions, whether it be through food, or how we give to others. Holiday cookies are a big part of traditions in America, but also traditional in other parts of the world. Check out some of the best recipes from around the world to add a new cultural tradition to the holiday cookies you may already make. Whether you're hosting or have hosted a student from one of these countries, or simply like to learn about other cultures and new recipes, these cookies will be a great addition to your holidays.
Do you love Italian food? Who doesn't! Much of Italian cuisine can be traced back to ancient Rome. As the Roman Empire conquered various nations, the spices and ingredients of these lands were incorporated into Roman cuisine. Pasta, one of Italy’s most famous food items, can be traced back to the Etruscans who conquered Rome in 800 BC. Food historians have identified a mural in an Etruscan tomb which shows cooks mixing flour and water, with tools such as a rolling pin and a cutting machine, to produce pasta.
Argentina has so much cultural and culinary diversity, with 35 indigenous tribes and many immigrants. Argentina has the largest number of immigrants outside of the U.S. Between 1853-1955, 6.6 million immigrants landed in Argentina. Spaniards, Italians, Scottish, Welch, Germans, Scandinavians, Russian and Japanese immigrants all brought their own cooking techniques and ingredients, creating a unique blend of culinary cultures in Argentina. In particular, Italian cuisine is very prevalent, with pasta and pizza found everywhere. Local ingredients include corn, sweet potatoes, squash, and melons. Argentina is well known for beef, and in some regions, so is lamb and goat. Empanadas are also extremely popular and delicious, coming in a variety of shapes and varieties.
Egypt is located in the northeastern region of the African continent, bordering both the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Wall paintings and carvings have been discovered on tombs and temples, showing large feasts and a variety of foods. Many of these ancient foods are still eaten in Egyptian households today. Peas, beans, cucumbers, dates, figs, and grapes were popular fruits and vegetables in ancient times. Wheat and barley, ancient staple crops, were used to make bread and beer. Fish (often salted and dried in the sun) and poultry were also popular. Whether you've never tried Egyptian food or you're obsessed, you've come to the right menu!
When you think of French cuisine, what comes to mind? French pastry such as crepes, croissants, eclairs, and baguettes are all commonly enjoyed foods with a French origin. In the past, feasting was very common for wealthy individuals in France, but modern French cuisine places an emphasis on moderation and quality over quantity, using lighter, seasonal ingredients, a shift which began in the 1800s. Roman and Italian influences are also credited with helping shape modern French cuisine into what it is today. Our French menu is sure to elevate your cooking game and leave everyone wanting more!
Prehistoric German food likely consisted of early forms of wheat, barley, milk, butter, cheese, and occasionally meat products, which were served most often during feasts. The earliest spices in German cuisine were parsley, celery, and dill, which are still used today. German cuisine draws heavily upon seasonal dishes, and there is a wide variety of regional differences. Modern German cuisine is well known for its roasted meats, fish, and bread. Mustard, horseradish, and juniper berries are also popular spices.
Thousands of castes and tribes exist in India, along with sixteen official languages and several hundred dialects, six major world religions, and many ethnic and linguistic groups. Food in India is an identity marker of all this and more. How one eats, what one eats, with whom, when, and why, is key to understanding the Indian social landscape as well as the relationships, emotions, statuses, and transactions of people within it. Spices are pivotal to Indian cuisine, and meals typically include a base of some kind of starch, a vegetable or meat curry, and a lentil-based stew. Rice is a symbol of wealth in Indian culture, with the most popular variety being basmati rice.
Japanese cuisine drew inspiration from a variety of countries, mostly Korea, China, but to a lesser extent Spain, and Portugal, and Germany as well. The traditional cuisine of Japan is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes, and there is an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Side dishes often contain fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth. Seafood is central, typically grilled, but also served raw in sashimi or in sushi.
Food in Turkey is very family-oriented, and therefore traditional cuisine has a strong emphasis on connection and sharing. While breakfasts and lunches are typically quicker and lighter during the week, consisting of seasonal foods, traditional breakfasts on the weekends can last for hours, and consist of multiple smaller dishes to be shared with everyone in the family. It’s worth noting that Turkey boasts the world record for largest per capita consumption of bread, at 440 lbs., per person per year. Bread is traditionally served at every meal, regardless of what’s being served. At night, the tradition of “yatsilik,” where seasonal fruit and nuts are served, is common.
It’s custom in Spain to eat lunch and dinner much later than in the United States, with lunch at around 2 PM to 3 PM and dinner around 10 PM to midnight. Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day, and is traditionally followed by a short nap, also called a “siesta.” Dinner is lighter, and often people of all ages (including kids) gather outside with friends after, with a strong emphasis on community and connection. It is not uncommon to see families outside with friends and neighbors at midnight.
In Spain, the motto is “eat when you drink, drink when you eat” –and tapas would seem to have been invented for just this. Tapas are finger food, a choice of delicious morsels to tempt the drinker to have another glass and with it another tapas dish. They range from simple dishes of olives and nuts to richly flavored shellfish and tidbits on skewers. While tapas is traditionally in the evening, in Spain it is common for adults to stay out much later on average than is popular in the United States.
At one time called the “breadbasket of Europe,” Ukraine has a subtropical climate which has allowed a big variety of grains and livestock to flourish. A few important staples are often found in soups as well as salads: beets, potatoes, cabbages, grapes, beans, mushrooms, and various meats. In Ukraine, a light breakfast is common, with the largest meal being in the afternoon. Dinner is typically served around 6 or 7 PM and is a time for families to gather. It’s not typical to eat out in restaurants frequently.
Nigerian meals are typically high-protein, high-fats, and high-carbs, which brings us to the only downside: you can easily put on a lot of weight eating these dishes every day due to their high-fat, high-carb content. They are often a soup or stew that might be served with rice. The dishes have bold strong flavors using nuts, seeds, beans, eggs and lots of peppers. Yorubas believe that eating peppery or spicy food improves one's quality of life which is backed up by a Yoruba saying that "A soul that does not eat pepper is a powerless soul." So, it means, the more pepper you eat, the stronger you become and the healthier your immune system will be.
More countries coming soon!