Recipes Reflect Diversity

Multi-cultural Sag Harbor parents have contributed to a cookbook,
Multi-cultural Sag Harbor parents have contributed to a cookbook, with proceeds to support the school’s garden as well as charity abroad. Carrie Ann Salvi

    A glimpse into the diverse kitchens of the Sag Harbor community is now available within a new cookbook, the result of a school festival. The “Multicultural Cookbook” celebrates the varied cultures that have co-existed since whaling days, when many dialects and traditions converged in the village.
    Cheryl Bedini, owner of the Java Nation coffee shop and a skilled cook herself, said that when her daughter Chiara was in kindergarten, she attended the school’s decade-old multicultural festival, but thought it could use a bit more diversity. When she shared her thoughts with the PTA the following year, the group asked her to take the lead, and included a generous budget.
    Her call for volunteers brought a tremendous response, and the multicultural festival that year included specialties from over 20 countries. The food turned out to be “outstandingly good,” Ms. Bedini said. Many parents agreed that a cookbook made sense. Brian Halweil, the editor of Edible East End and a Sag Harbor parent, offered to underwrite the cookbook, she said. Lindsay Morris, Edible East End’s photo editor, signed on to do pictures, and it all fell into place.
    “I e-mailed parents participating in the festival and asked for recipes. We were only collecting about 30, so we quickly got our quota,” Ms. Bedini said.
    The “sweet and sophisticated” cookbook is filled with comfort food, such as “truffled mac and cheese,” said Lauren Chattman, a chef with a food column in Newsday who also writes “Sag Harbor Days,” a local food blog. “Sag Harbor is a “community of incredible cooks,” she said. Ms. Chattman volunteered to edit the recipes in what she calls “not your average school cookbook.” 
    “People are really cooking interesting food around here,” she said.
    From Korean dumplings to Russian potato beet salad, the cookbook offers something for all tastes, as well as basic soups, stews, and chili with international flavor. Among the countries represented in the book are Brazil, China, Finland, Poland, Japan, Morocco, and Scotland.
    The cookbook was released at the multicultural festival at Pierson High School last month to the tunes of live music from around the world, with a side of international games, dancing, and souvenirs.
    The festival provided not only plenty of culinary delights, but gave students an introduction to some of their classmates’ cultures.
    Ms. Bedini’s husband, Andres, took charge of two tables, Argentina and Peru, the countries where he grew up. “I do the cooking, and the kids help out,” Ms. Bedini said. This year, their daughter Chiara emceed the musical portion of the event.
    Last year, the festival raised money for Wings over Haiti, with donations totaling $745. This year’s suggested donation of $5 netted $2,200, some of which went toward supplies for the school’s garden, and the remainder to charity:water.org, which provides clean water wells to communities in developing countries.
    Cookbooks can be purchased at Java Nation through April 15. They can also be reserved by sending a $15 check made out to the Sag Harbor PTA to 200 Jermain Avenue, Sag Harbor 11963, then picked up at the school.