Last week an Eastside resident got a chance to sample Sri Lankan cuisine, something they won’t find in any restaurant in the region, cooked and served by Kirkland residents who make up the small population of immigrants.
The Sri Lankan Dinner for Charity was held as part of an auction for the Kirkland Arts Center. One of the members for the Kirkland Arts Board is Shanika Weerasundara, who helped put on the dinner.
Weerasundara and her family originally moved from Sri Lanka, a small island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean, for the same reason most have, to work in the budding technology industry. She too has worked in the technology industry and practiced law, and both she and her husband have entrepreneurial endeavors as well.
“Mostly it’s the husband that gets the job (when they move),” she said. “Most ladies, almost 90 percent of them also have advanced degrees and really great skills. Some of them have taken time to raise families, they’ve taken four or five years off, and others are juggling career and family in between.”
She estimates there are around 250 families in the area, and though their numbers are small she said they’re growing.
“They have had employment previously in other states but for some reason Washington has become a very popular destination,” she said. “In a certain way it is like Sri Lanka. It has water and mountains and plains. Very cosmopolitan. It’s very beautiful.”
For them, the auction dinner is a chance to offer a rare opportunity to sample Sri Lankan meal such as string hoppers, Watallapam and ceylon tea, served by women in traditional batik attire.
“I really felt that it was very unique,” she said. “We have such an amazingly rich culture and amazingly rich heritage that we don’t often have a chance to share in the United States.”