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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson Meet Yourself: Check out the venues behind TMY


    Courtesy of Maribel Alvarez

    A vendor at Tucson Meet Yourself prepares Bosnian cuisine at his booth at the 2014 event. The festival is held annually and gives the community a chance to experience different cultures.

    Though Tucson Meet Yourself features cultural performances throughout the celebration, the food is the most prominent presence. It’s one thing to experience another culture’s dress and performances, but it’s another to actively experience a culture by eating its diverse food.

    Executive Director of Southwest Folklife Alliance Maribel Alvarez highlighted five things that food stands for at Tucson Meet Yourself. 

    1. “Food is the thing that attracts people to what is essentially an ‘educational event.’”

    If all else fails, food is always a good excuse to attend an event. The taste, smell and even the sight of food from another culture can excite the possibility of wanting to discover more about that culture.

    2. “Food is not background or supplementary but rather ‘the program’—the actual material shape of cultural diversity, tangible and real.”

    Food is the creation of a culture’s values mixed with the culture’s aesthetics; food can provide people a glimpse into those values and aesthetics.

    3. “Food is a symbolic statement of how beauty, human resilience and dignity can be shared across places and generations.”

    Even if two different cultures do not share a language, one way they can communicate is through food. It also acts as the gateway for incorporating cultural diversity into the homes of Tucsonans.

    4. “Food is a vehicle for cultural groups and small ethnic business owners to raise money, which then gets re-invested in their practices of cultural transmission.”

    Investing in knowledge of another’s culture is worth the price, especially if the item of investment is food. If one doesn’t know how to cook the food of another culture, buying it is a great way to still have that cultural connection to those around you.

    5. “Food stands for … an affirmation of the value of democratic pluralism. Tucson is a city with such a large culturally diverse population that it’s almost impossible to not be exposed to it in some way.”

    Making or eating the food of another culture is a way of saying that you acknowledge them. Since we all live in the same place, it’s customary to share our experiences and values in order to create this thing called culture. What may be Mexican culture or Native American culture comes together to create Tucson culture. 

    As for Tucson Meet Yourself, the best way to experience these cultures is to attend and to try as much of the food as possible. It’s a kind gesture to show appreciation to the people that share the same city space as we do. After all, we are one people—Tucsonans.

    Tucson Meet Yourself is happening Friday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It’s located in downtown Tucson at the Old Pima County Courthouse, El Presidio Park and the Pima County Library and Jacome Plaza.

    Follow Justice Amarillas on Twitter.

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