Girl Scout Tasting Bee: Cuisine and Culture

Girl Scout Troop 1051 represented Mexico. Shown are Najla Alameddine, Maritza Vogt, Maia Vergara, Naiya Rothurmund, Sasha Tae and Zoe Gibson.
Photos by Lori BODNAR


Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles hosted its 38th Annual Girl Scout Tasting Bee showcasing countries and culinary tastes from around the world.The Girl Scout Tasting Bee is held to celebrate World Thinking Day and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS). There are about 8.8 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 153 countries. Girl Scout levels includes Daisies (grades K-1), Brownies (grades 2-3), Juniors (grades 4-5), Cadettes (grades 6-8), Seniors (grades 9-10) and Ambassadors (grades 11-12).
Patti Brundige, a service unit manager (SUM) for the Crescenta Valley Girl Scouts Service Unit (CVGSSU), organized the Girl Scout Tasting Bee.

Girl Scout Troop 1255 represented France.

“I think the benefit to Girl Scouts is learning about the World Centers and the 153 countries that are part of the World Association,” Brundige said. “Juliette Gordon Lowe founded Girl Scouts in the U.S. and promoted girl scouting worldwide. The WAGGS’ Edith Macy Center in New York – 400 acres – was donated in 1926 in honor of Edith Macy who was the chair of Girl Scouts. I was invited there for training at Edith Macy.”

There are five World Centers in WAGGS, including Our Chalet in Switzerland, Our Cabaña in Mexico, Pax Lodge in the United Kingdom, Sangam in India and Kusafiri in the Africa region. The Kusafiri World Center is not a single facility; Kusafiri events are held in facilities throughout different countries in Africa.

Mary Jane Craig has been to four of the World Centers and has been a Girl Scout for almost 60 years.

“The only World Center I haven’t been to is Africa. Going to the World Centers is like a different world; the staff is international, so you never know who is going to be there. I was a member of the Olave Baden-Powell Society, which was started by the queen and princess of Denmark. They have a meeting every year in a different country,” said Craig. “I have been a Girl Scout for 57 years. I have been on the Friends of Cabaña committee for 25 years. They give recognition by planting a tree there in your name; I got a lemon tree. I am also part of the Silver Trefoil.”

For the Tasting Bee hosting troops represented Portugal, Mexico, France, Japan, Italy and Panama.

“Nina [a Girl Scout member] is actually Portuguese, so she wanted to [demonstrate] her culture and the girls wanted to be supportive. We are serving caldo verde, which is green soup and chorizo, then Portuguese tarts called pastel de nata,” said Janet Arbitrario, troop leader, Girl Scout Troop 6311. “Our troop started when [the girls] were in kindergarten. We prepared for the Tasting Bee by learning about Portugal and [the country’s] cuisine. The girls are earning their cuisine badges so the Tasting Bee just worked around the same time.”

“We have Portuguese heritage and my daughter Nina was excited to share her culture with everybody. We did a Tasting Bee before as participants and then Nina switched elementary schools. Last year, we did a Thailand booth at the Tasting Bee. Nina is in sixth grade and is going to middle school next year, the other girls in the troop are in middle school now. We are a Dunsmore Elementary and Rosemont Middle School troop. It was fun learning about Girl Scouts with Nina; I feel like Girl Scouts teaches how to be a good person,” said Nancy Ventura.

Troop 1051 represented Mexico. There are six girls in the troop and they are Seniors (grades 9-10). They are working on their journey to earn a Girl Scout Gold Award and plan on saving money to visit the Switzerland World Center. Troop 1051 has participated in the Girl Scout Tasting Bee in the past.

“We chose to represent Mexico because we wanted to learn more about the culture and half our troop has Mexican ancestry. We are serving horchata, enchiladas, flan and Mexican wedding cookies,” said Maia Vergara. “We were here for the Girl Scout Tasting Bee last year and represented Germany. I like to learn more about different cultures, read the posters at the tables and try the food. We researched beforehand and our troop leader told us about Mexico.”

“We chose to represent France because of the mimes,” said Cadette Charlotte Giagni of Troop 1255, which represented France. “It is a cool place, [including] the Eiffel Tower. French is a beautiful language and [there are] a lot of choices for food. We are serving madeleines.”

Girl Scout Troop 846 showcased Japanese cuisine with matcha and soba noodles. Troop 70411 combined two troops and created an Italian feast including bruschetta.

Italy was also highlighted by Troops 70411 and 02931.
“We chose to represent Italy because we like the food,” said Girl Scout Francesca Daza from Troop 70411.

Troop 02931 also showcased Italian cuisine, offering Alfredo pasta, meatballs and pizzelles – a traditional Italian waffle. The six girls in the troop are all Cadettes.

“The troop has done the Girl Scout Tasting Bee since the beginning – for nine years now. I enjoy the food, of course, it is always fun to have the variety, and it is nice to have the troops get together. We prepared for the Tasting Bee by researching Italy, making a poster, and the girls decided what food to serve. They learned about how girls in other countries like Italy do their own version of Girl Scouts and how life is like over there,” said troop leader Leah Blackley.
Girl Scout Troop 1611 represented Panama. Most of the troop members are Cadettes and are going to Pax Lodge and Chalet in two years.

SWAPS (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) are usually exchanged at large Girl Scout events. At the Tasting Bee, many of the hosting troops had SWAPS related to the country they were representing.

The 38th annual Girl Scout Tasting Bee was held at the Scout House in Montrose and celebrated different countries that are part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The event allowed Girl Scouts and the community to explore other cultures and culinary tastes, while also giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their heritage.

“Juliette Lowe” made an appearance at the Tasting Bee.
Girl Scout Troop 1611 represented Panama. Most of the troop members are Cadettes and are going to Pax Lodge and Chalet in two years.