From chicken waffles to lassi—school celebrates diverse cultures at annual Passport Lunch

The Passport Lunch began eight years ago in teacher Brooke Wells’s advisory as a fundraiser for charity. Since then, the event has been an annual tradition during the high school’s World Cultures Week.

This year, the lunch raised around $550 for Breakthrough Sacramento, with more than 100 high-school students and teachers participating.

 Room 1

Root Beer Floatville

 Students stopped by Room 1 where Wells’s advisory served root beer floats. Floats were served out of Wells’s window, creating a convenient “walkthrough window.”

The root beer float was a favorite of freshman Serajh Esmail.

“It was delectable,” he said. “They had root beer and Coca Cola, so if you didn’t like root beer, you could still have one. Well, a Coke float.”

 Room 2

Chicken and Waffletown

 For the first time, teacher Ron Bell sampled Kentucky Fried Chicken dipped in waffle batter then cooked in a waffle iron, otherwise known as the chicken waffle.

Bell  said he liked the traditional soul food dish better than he thought he would.

Freshman Bradford Petchauer also enjoyed the dish. “It was just fantastic,” he said.

Bell’s advisory paired the chicken waffles with grape soda.

 Room 3

Cornbread and Chili

 With the majority of her advisory being Chinese students, Jane Bauman decided to pick a traditional American dish: cornbread and chili.

Bauman offered her students two recipes for chili to follow and make for the lunch.

Bauman has found that in previous years, heating up Chinese food is too difficult, so she and her advisory chose an easy dish to keep warm.

Using crockpots, Bauman’s advisory was able to make the chili ahead of time, as well as in large quantities.

 Room 4


 Chocolate from different countries was served in Daniel Neukom’s classroom, with glasses of milk to cleanse the palate between tastings.

Neukom has hosted Chocoland for a few years, but this year finding international chocolate proved to be harder than most.  Many well-known chocolates, such as Lindt and Godiva, which brand themselves as imported chocolates, are actually now made in America, he said.

“It was really cool to see that so many different places make chocolate different ways,” sophomore Claire Pinson said. Some of the most popular chocolate was from Switzerland, France, and Holland, though the Chocolove bars, with love poems on the wrapper, were fitting for Valentine’s Day.

 Room 6

Latin America

 Patricia Portillo’s advisory had a Latin American theme.

Drawn from her curriculum of Spanish language and culture,  the room offered staples such as rice, beans, and quesadillas.

“My favorite thing about that room was that there were tamales, and there wasn’t a line like in all the other classrooms,” said freshman Diego Perochena.

 Room 7


 For a more domestic flavor students stopped by room 7. Teachers Chris Millsback’s and Sue Nellis’s advisories focused on All American cuisine.

A crowd favorite was Nellis’s homemade macaroni and cheese.

“Really nice, it tasted so good. So creamy, so rich. I love it,” said freshman Tom Long.

Another favorite was the quintessential Californian meal: the In-N-Out hamburger.

“It had raw onion in it, because that is In-N-Out’s specialty, but I prefer grilled onion,” said sophomore Daniel Kong. “Mr. Millsback was cutting the burgers into quarters so more people could have some.”

 Room 8


 Francophone, meaning “someone who speaks or a place where people speak French,” was the theme for teacher Richard Day’s classroom.

Day has been using the theme for several years. Since he teaches French, he said he wanted food from any place with a French influence, including Switzerland, Belgium, and the United States.

The food included croissants (France), crab-salad rolls (Vietnam), hot chocolate (Louisiana)  and quiche (France).

 Room 9


 Pasta salad, spaghetti, fettuccini alfredo, veggie lasagna, and hummus were served in the Latin room.

Teacher Jane Batarseh has been doing a theme of Mediterranean food for the last four years because the Mediterranean Sea surrounds all the areas that were once under Roman control.

Since students aren’t aware of what Romans would have eaten, no one has ever brought traditional food from Rome such as scrambled eggs with honey and pepper., she said. Instead they bring food that has been Americanized, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce.


Indian Drinks

 While everyone else was busy cooking, librarian Joanne Melinson and assistant librarian Marian Simmons were mixing chai tea and mango lassi, traditional Indian drinks.

Each year the library focuses on drinks. The librarians’ choices went hand-in-hand with the Indian theme of World Cultures Day.

An assembly was held in the gym on Thursday celebrating Indian culture. Traditional Indian dancing was performed by students.

In addition, Lokesh Sikaria, father of freshman Saachi, presented a slide show focusing on the history of India and highlighting cricket, a popular game there.


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