Dinner at Saraj - Exploring Bosnian Food
As part of the Dinner around Des Moines series, about 30 young professionals from Greater Des Moines (DSM) converged at Saraj Restaurant and Bakery in West Des Moines — a neat little place serving authentic Bosnian food. This restaurant has been running for more than three years and has fairly diverse Bosnian food options including 3 selections of Bosnian beer.
As all the attendees settled themselves around the table, the owner of the restaurant was eager to share with us useful information about Bosnia, Bosnians in the USA, and food recommendations. The owner tried to explain to us why Bosnia should not be lost into the generic identity of ‘Eastern Europe.’ She illustrated this by talking about the diverse geographical features — from mountains to coasts — that are found in the country, which is ‘half the size of Kentucky.’
The excitement and expectations became evident once people began ordering the various Bosnian dishes. More than 2 dozen bottles of Sarajevo—the Bosnian beer—were opened in great anticipation and was almost in all cases followed by smiles of approval and satisfaction.
Making Conversation at Dinner Around Des Moines
While waiting for food, the Diversity Committee implemented their ice-breaker plan: in the name of ‘controlled chaos’, everyone seated around the tables moved from one seat to the next asking a couple of pre-determined icebreaker questions to the person sitting opposite to them. And it worked great!
Not only did it get people out of their familiar comfort zones, it also made sure that they met at least a dozen (or more) new people and ask them questions like: “If you could listen to one last CD, what would it be?” or “What business would you like to start if given the opportunity?” To all those who were at the event, I ask you: “When was the last time you got to know so many things about so many people over food you had probably never eaten before?!”
Once the ‘controlled chaos’ subsided, the food arrived and everyone was eagerly digging into their plates — evidently tired after a long day! Compliments flew around as people savored their dishes and shared their food. The dinner was followed by Bosnian desserts for those who still had the appetite for it. And eventually, the time approached for people to leave. It was with an air of satisfaction and further anticipation that people exchanged contact information and business cards before they left for the night.
This great event created an opportunity for young professionals to be genuinely excited about learning and experiencing something new in Des Moines. Within the constraints of a daily or weekly routine, it is easy to lose track of those things that bring about a sense of excitement and anticipation. Exploring different cuisines not only fits the bill, it also helps us to get to know our city better.
Des Moines is a diverse city — and the Dinner around Des Moines series will definitely help us to explore this diversity better. Not only are there different cuisines that we haven’t tried, but there are also a lot of young professionals from diverse backgrounds out there who are looking to network and make friends. Do look out for the next in this series because there is a good chance you will discover something new in Des Moines!
Check out photos from this great event here.
YPC Diversity Committee member