Passport to DC Brings Dozens of Cultures to One City


Courtesy of Isabelle Pala

Isabelle Pala and Libby Brown

On the first two Saturdays of May, DC embassies open their doors to the public to celebrate their nation and culture through food, dancing, history, and more. This is the perfect way to experience countries all around the world—without the jetlag.

The first Saturday, May 4, was dedicated to five continents with countries spanning from Australia to South Africa to Japan. Reds, yellows, and greens filled the streets as traditional dancers wore the bright colors of their homeland. The Bolivian embassy was filled with people selling vibrant fabrics and textiles, sweet and savory foods ranging from empanadas to tawa tawas (a dessert similar to beignets), and women danced in the driveway. The Turkish embassy had delicious doner kebabs, sweet baklavas, and music blasted in the courtyard.

On May 11, the European embassies welcomed DC residents to another intricate display of culture. Long lines winded down Massachusetts Avenue as volunteers handed out traditional candies and offered face paint. Inside the Finnish embassy were aspects of their culture such as food and history. When asked about the preparation that goes into these events, Cultural Counselor Annina Aalto said that a lot of planning goes into putting this project together. She elaborates that the event “is made for the American public, so of course, we talk about perhaps more obvious things to people in Finland. But other than that, the food that we have here is something you would see at Finnish festivals as well.”

Clearly, a big part of this event is the variety of food. At the Finnish embassy, there were crackers with cheese, lox, and more. The Italian embassy had fresh pizza made in a wood fire burning oven by the minute and gelato was offered in a food truck right outside the building. Volunteer Donatella Melucci explained that this event was realistic because they “promote not only language, but Italian culture.” Melucci claimed that not much was left out at the open house because “there was food, there was information about [language] courses, there’s music, so I think it’s a very well-prepared and organized event.”

Make sure to look out for this fun-filled event next year in early May. This was the perfect setting to spend time with family or friends to explore the wonders of foreign countries, just be prepared to devote your entire day to wandering the embassy row.