Students at Middlebrook School have been widening their horizons–musically, geographically and gastronomically–this week with the annual World Language Week, providing a range of experiences to give them a glimpse of the wider world.

On Tuesday all students attended a Music of the Earth assembly, which expertly weaved together traditional music and culture from across the globe. It reminded students that music is all around us, all through time, all over the earth and the bond between music and the earth is a close one.

Musical instruments were used to express the link between culture, music and the earth. “When you are related to someone or something, you treat them well. The grownups have polluted the earth and the sky, you guys need to grow up and make things better. Remember that we are related to everything around us,” said Darius Kaufman, the performer for Music of the Earth.

Students heard a wide range of sounds and instruments, from a Native American flute, an Aztec wind whistle, and crystal singing bowls, to drum beats, deer hoof rattles, and conch shells. Highlights for the students included the very unusual sound of the didgeridoos, which the students learned was made from the dead branch of a eucalyptus tree hollowed out by ants and termites. Students were very much entranced by the Scottish bagpipes being played in the auditorium aisles and a number of brave student dancers took the challenge to dance a jig on stage to accompany the music.

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The International Food Competition took place on Thursday afternoon with over 100 entries inspired from the food traditions of 23 countries around the world. France had the most representation, followed by India and Italy. There were also lesser known temptations from Guyana, Hungary and Canada. Students have been practicing and perfecting their dishes for weeks. Sixth graders Savona Bocchino and Kenzie Mitchell were typical of the students showcasing their culinary skills. After settling on making their arancini dish they spent time perfecting their choice and family members were the beneficiaries of their trials.

World Language Week has been managed for the last 10 years by 8th grade French teacher Simon Bulenzi. This was the first year that the PTA was brought on board to set up for the International Food Festival, and oversee the scoring at the event–freeing up the foreign language teachers to join their colleagues as tasting judges for the first time, a role which they clearly all relished.

Judging took place over two rounds. Two winning dishes from each of the 15 tables made it to the second round where a fresh, hungry batch of judges then faced the grueling task of determining which of the 10 items they tasted would be crowned the top three entries in each category. In all 66 judges were recruited–teachers, parents and town personnel, including members of the Police Department and Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps (WVAC) who all took their judging responsibilities very seriously.

Each dish was judged on appearance, taste and consistency. Judge and parent Ananda Ward said it was hard to choose a winner. “Everything was amazing, but in the end for me, taste was the deciding factor.”

Heather Priest, Middlebrook’s Family and Consumer Science teacher, was also in attendance. “It’s all about flavor and freshness,” she said, as she perhaps picked up a few ideas to add into next year’s curriculum.

The sheer variety and creativity of the dishes on show was breathtaking. John Miscioscia, WVAC president, sounded very excited to be a judge. “I came off my diet for this. I was so glad to be invited, this is such a great community event.”

Community was what it was all about, according to Bulenzi. “I enjoy the build up to the event, the sense of community and everyone working together to organize a great experience for the students.”

The 6th graders swept the board by finishing at the top in each of the three categories:  Jake Schlack (6Y) finished first in the appetizer category with his tuna tartare dish from Japan; Sabir Sikiri and Ahann Sharma (6Y) placed first in the main course division with their chicken tikka masala from India; and Madeline Shukovsky and Alexis Shukovsky (6R) finished first in desserts with their chocolate and raspberry roulade, from England.

The total list of winners included:

Appetizers

1st place:  Tuna tartare (Japan) by Jake Schlack 6Y
2nd place:  Lumpia (Philippines) by Amanda Lentz 6G and Kate Sullivan 6G
3rd place:  Spicy Feta Hotpot by (Greece) by Illeas Paschalidis 7R

Main Dishes

1st place:  Chicken Tikka Masala (India) by Ahaan Sharma 6Y and Sabir Sikiri 6Y
2nd place:  Island Pork Tenderloin (Jamaica) by Tanner Schmauch 6G
3rd place:  Butter Paneer (India) by Rudra Khanijau 6G

Desserts

1st place:  Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte (UK) by Alexis Shukovsky 6Y and Madeline Shukovsky 6Y
2nd place:  Mixed Berry Pavlova (New Zealand) by Elle Hawthorne 6R and Shyla Bathla 6R
3rd place: Tiramisu (Italy) by Afroz Ali 6R and Nadan Raman 6R

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