Variety is the Spice of Lions Take Your Members on a Culinary Tour. If a multicontinent excursion is out of the grasp of your club, offer your members the next best thing: experience the culture of Lions across the globe by sampling their delectable dishes. It’s a monthly activity for the Billerica Lions Club in Massachusetts, which invites the community to join them in tasting ethnic cuisine from Cambodia, Korea, Poland and Ethiopia, to name a few. Lion Mike Kiskiel started the outing as an effort to expand the horizons of the club and get the members together for fun. While ethnic cuisine is the focus, Kiskiel said he’d like to incorporate different regions and styles of food as well, such as vegan dishes. “I’m willing to try anything so I made kind of a crazy offer and said why don’t we do something new every month for as long as we can without any repeats,” Kiskiel said. Kiskiel is always on the lookout for new place to share with Lions. He relies on the ethnic cuisine in his own town, as well as places within a 20-mile radius. Before he sets the date in stone, he’ll do a dry run of the evening to make sure it’s suitable and the restaurant can accommodate the Lions’ requests. “Once in a while I’ll spend a Sunday afternoon scouting the Web for things we haven’t done yet and just keep a long list,” Kiskiel said. “My wife and I will go and audition the place.” Kiskiel lets his club know far in advance of the eatery as well as facts about the food they’ll consume. He also invites anyone from the public to join them for the evening. “A month ahead of time I’ll prepare a handout that describes the country involved, the politics … typical ingredients,” Kiskiel said. The meals are served family style while Kiskiel talks about the food and the country of origin. While some of the foods such as fermented fish from Cambodia or kidney stew served on a sourdough pancakes from Ethiopia are foreign to the members, everyone learns something. “There’s a few that say ‘Oh, I would never go to a place like that.’ There’s one guy that has never missed an evening,” Kiskiel said. “I’m proud of them. They try everything. Quite often, though, not everyone eats everything, but everything gets eaten.” Todd Baldwin has been to nearly every gathering. “I’m actually a really picky eater and I guess this is my way of forcing myself to get out there and try something new and try something different,” Baldwin said. He said he’s learned a great deal about food, and about his own palate. “Ethiopia was utterly fascinating but I completely disliked the food,” Baldwin said. “They have these different mushes, they stew just everything. It was very, very neat, but it’s not something that I’d like.” This fun gathering has been a way for existing Lions to bond and invite new potential members. Kiskiel said it’s a great way to think about how other Lions across the world live. “Any club that has a food enthusiast and some access to variety is a candidate for doing this,” Kiskiel said. “We’re blessed to be by Boston … and these small cities that are rich with ethnic neighborhoods. There are a lot of cities like that throughout the United States and the world.”
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