Opinion: Evening in Paris

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It was an Evening in Paris. This time the City of Lights was dutifully replicated in the Culinary Arts Center on Ivy Tech’s bustling Indianapolis Campus. Replete with Eifel Tower, tasty treats, comfy cafes and a noted cabaret singer (thanks to local standout talent Gail Payne), the festive nature of the event belies the intentionality of the cause underlying it. 

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the gala funds study-abroad opportunities for culinary students to both the storied French capital and to its vaunted surrounding farms, wineries and producers. Home to and originators of some of the finest and best-produced food in the accumulation of western culture, the student travelers are, thanks to the generosity of so many, steeped in the techniques and trades that bring life to the notable comforting provincial and elegant urban menus.

Still, it may be the more existential effects of the trip that leave the longest impression. Many of the explorers will have never before possessed a passport, flown on an airplane, or even left the safe confines of central Indiana. While in Provence, sitting around the kitchen table listening to a farmer extol the virtues of his fromage, do those assembled learn as much about themselves, and the world in which they live, as they do about the nuanced distinction between the diets of the cows to produce the raw milk for the product? 

Can it be that Ivy Tech Community College, and its many supporters, are opening eyes at the very same time they are pleasing palates? If we find that we have access to a new world, food or otherwise, don’t we take a bit more ownership in it? In addition to returning to us better educated and skilled chefs, are we receiving a new crew of more worldly Hoosiers? 

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