On a recent evening, some 40 people gathered at Cuchara to enjoy Mexico City food and learn more about Mexico from a group of Mexican speakers living in Houston. Among them were a local artist, an art historian, a Univision account exec, an engineer, and Cuchara’s owner, Ana Beaven.
The dinner, Appreciation of Mexico, was the fourth in a series launched by Casey Hirschmann in January to provide a forum where people can learn more about the cultures that make up Houston. Named Culture & Cuisine, the monthly gatherings are meant to help people interact with people from other cultures and, Hirschmann hopes, lead to more understanding and awareness of the people in our community.
“Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country but we’re so spread out that we don’t necessarily interact with each other,” said Hirschmann. “It’s a great opportunity to come together every month and learn about people.”
Following an introduction and some brief icebreakers at the Mexico event, each guest speaker spent some 10 minutes at each table talking about their experiences in the U.S. and answering questions from diners before moving on to the next table. It may sound formal but it certainly didn’t feel that way. Conversation flowed easily over food and drinks, and aside from the calls for speakers to move to the next table, the event felt more like a casual dinner with friends. For dinner, Beaven served Cuchara’s comida corrida, a three-course meal that’s typically only served mid-day, giving diners two to three options to choose from for each course.
The next Culture & Cuisine dinner will feature China at Pepper Twins (Fairview) on May 31. Previous dinners have explored Venezuela (at Andes Café), Italy (at Coppa Osteria) and Japan (at Izakaya). Hirschmann is also working on a Cultural Thanksgiving where she plans to bring together several of the cultures represented in Houston for a Thanksgiving feast.
“We are kind of the face of what the country may look like some years from now and it's an opportunity to show the country how united we can be rather than having a bunch of segregated communities within a city,” said Hirschmann.