Marietta Morning Rotary Club Hosts International Dinner

“Enjoy your food, travel around the world, and have a great time!” Khadine Ritter, Event Organizer, proclaimed.

The Marietta Morning Rotary Club held their International Dinner on Saturday, April 2nd, at the Marietta Shrine Club. Upon first entering the Shriner Club, attendees were hit with the powerful and delicious scent of foods from several different countries and regions. Khadine described the event as “a feast of the senses” and nothing could be more true, with attendees being able to see chefs and helpers in their traditional dress with items from their culture while tasting their traditional foods. The dinner also featured a silent auction on a bazaar of items from many places around the world, donated by various individuals.

Monica Carhuay and Sofia and Gabriel Villarrueta representing Peru (Michelle Waters)

All the chefs are MOV locals who are either directly from the country they represent or are first-generation residents. The dinner was a great way for people to get out and experience new food and culture from all around the world, locally. This was the 17th year the dinner has been held and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Several new countries were featured this year, including Great Britain, Thailand, Belgium, and Palestine. There were forty-one unique dishes featured from fourteen different countries/regions, including India, Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland, and many others.

When asked what she was most looking forward to with the dinner, Ritter, who was representing Panama as well as organizing the event, said “As a cook, I just want to get through it unscathed and make sure that people have enough food and that they have a fabulous day.”

Attendees filled the Marietta Shrine Club (Michelle Waters)

Many chefs decorated their tables with traditional or personal items from their childhood abroad. Nicholas Newman, representing Switzerland, decorated his table with wooden cows representing his nation’s Brown Swiss cattle breed and his country’s flag. Other chefs regaled attendees with stories of their home country or interesting history facts, like Davis Powers with his Viking helmet and stories of how Sweden mellowed out from their conquering Viking past into a “very useful country.”

Some chefs, like Thangasamy Saminathan, Anitha Thamizhani, Harish Damahe, and Johnsely Sanitha Cuyrus from Tamil Nadu, dressed in full traditional garb and gladly explained the significance of each article of clothing and explained the health benefits of their dishes. Idli, a savory rice cake, is an incredibly healthy breakfast that can be topped with different types of chutney. Some chefs, like Maria Corbin, Sophia Corbin, and Rebecca Coelho representing Brazil, chose not only the most popular dishes in their country but also their favorites.

Personal favorite dishes included the chicken green curry from Thailand, waterzooi (chicken stew with carrots, leeks, onions, and heavy cream) from Belgium, and payasam (a dessert made with vermicelli, milk, ghee, raisins, and nuts) from Tamil Nadu, India.

The dinner was attended by people of all ages and walks of life, from toddlers to senior citizens, from families to couples on date night, and people out with their friends.

Attendee Parker Waters, age 10, said she was excited about the event because she wanted to try food from different cultures and countries. She was surprised to find she liked the pork carnitas from Mexico and the Russian honey cake which she described as “sweet, but not sweet enough to make your mouth hurt.” She said normally she’s a bit particular and just sticks with the things she’s comfortable with, but she went and tried something new. She would recommend the dinner to a friend because “it’s a really good way to learn how different cultures and countries prepare their food, and it’s an amazing idea for them to try.”

“I love seeing all of the different cultures that are represented every year,” said Beth Segrest. “I think it is a great reminder that diversity doesn’t just happen in our big cities. It exists in small-town America, too. I think it is a great opportunity for people to share a part of their identity with the broader community and presents the rest of us with exposure to some small part of a place we might never get to go to. And of course, the food is always fantastic!”

Lively Celtic music was provided during the event by The Brickersons, based in Athens, Ohio. The quartet is composed of Ed Newman (hammered dulcimer), Rusty Smith (fiddle), Todd Sams (guitar), and Zeke Hutchison (mandolin).

Proceeds from the dinner focus on the club’s literacy projects, such as the Dictionary Project, which has been responsible for providing a dictionary to every third grader in Washington county (over 700 dictionaries per year) since 2007, the Boys and Girls Club Reading Room in the Harmar Community Building, and funding the Marietta College Summer Reading Camp.

Christy Burke, the club’s president and Director of Education Abroad at Marietta College, described the Marietta Morning Rotary Club as an “action-based club that prides itself on being in the community.” Aside from their literacy projects, the club focuses on a number of other initiatives, like the Discovery Garden on the corner of Pike Street and Seventh Street, planting trees at Gold Star Park, and working with Marietta Main Street on their clean sweep downtown.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Marietta Morning Rotary Club should contact The club typically meets on Fridays at 7:00 am at Jeremiah’s Coffee House on Front Street. Burke says the club is a great way to start the end of your week!