Even though COVID-19 has interrupted international travel, nothing could stop members of Forbes CWA Evening Branch and their guests experiencing some of the food and culture of the nominated Country of Study, even if it was here in Forbes.
"Expanding our knowledge of other countries and the cultural aspects of that community raises awareness and encourages members to socialise and support each other as well as those in other communities," said Robyn Miller, president of the Evening Branch.
"By studying a country members are furthering their knowledge and understanding, which is a focus for the CWA."
The 2020-2021 Country of Study was Ecuador, a small country on the west coast of South America.
One way to learn about a country is through tasting some of their traditional foods. Members and guests sat down to an Ecuadorian three course meal prepared by Kim and Marc, and their team at the Vandenberg Hotel.
Traditional foods took centre stage on the evening. Slow cooked pork marinated in beer, garlic and cumin and beef marinated in achiote spice served with guacamole, tomato salsa and hot sauces followed an entree of empanadas filled with cheese and onion.
To satisfy those with a sweet tooth a taster plate was served with traditional Ecuadorian desserts of caramelised flan and spicy marinated pumpkin and cheese.
Popcorn was provided as nibbles as Ecuadorians eat popcorn for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as in between meals and often on their main meals.
Another way of learning about a country is to study their traditional dress. Two of the organising committee used this occasion to dress in traditional dress, with Heather Mackinnon in festival costume and Sue Cunningham in a traditional dance costume.
"This added to the festival atmosphere created by decorating the restaurant in an Ecuadorian theme," Sue said.
Unable to find a local who has travelled in Ecuador to be a guest speaker, the internet and Mr You-Tube proved to be a great source of information.
The gathering learned about 15 surprising things that Ecuador is famous for including the Panama hat, cut flowers especially the rose and the orchid, and the most hummingbird species in the world, and that Ecuador exports some of the finest chocolate in the world.
Guests were also informed about the "ten most shocking things tourists are surprised about when going to Ecuador including cuy (guinea pigs) as a favourite food," commented Mr You-Tube.
"The success of the night would not be possible except for the outstanding research and culinary skills of Kim, Marc and their team in the Vandenberg Hotel kitchen for providing another delicious and unusual traditional meal," Mrs Mackinnon said.
"Thanks also go to David Mahlo for his technical assistance on the night."
As many of our members work our meetings are held at 6.30pm every second Thursday of each month at the Vandenberg Hotel. Next meeting is on 13 May 2021.
Email for the branch is firstname.lastname@example.org or contact ph: 0407002937
New members are most welcome as is anyone who would like to see what we do if they are thinking of joining. Our meetings usually include dinner and socialising as well.