Students learn culture through food


Photo by: Angela Acosta

A sample of Canadian bacon macaroni and cheese presented for students to try.

Students tasted different foods from around the world at FMU’s annual cultural food festival from 1-4 p.m. on Oct.11 in the Smith University Center, sponsored by FMU’s Campus Activities Board (CAB).

Mirella Manilla, a volunteer for CAB, opened the free event by explaining each dish’s history, and the research that went into finding those histories. Students were also given a sheet with explanations and recipes of the dishes. Daphne Carter-McCants, assistant vice president for student affairs, also spoke to students to encourage them  to step out of their comfort zone and try foods that seemed unfamiliar to them.

After Manilla’s explanation, students lined up to get samples of each dish. CAB members and volunteers served the students Kartoplia Solimkoi, or deep fried straw potatoes, from Ukraine, baby carrots from Morocco, chicken skillet from Spain, currywurst, a type of sausage, from Germany, Kuping Gaiah, or elephant ear cookies, from Indonesia and Canadian bacon macaroni and cheese from Canada. Aramark, FMU’s dining service, prepared each dish. 

CAB members chose which dishes to feature at the event as a group during one of their meetings.

As students left, CAB members asked them to fill out a survey with their thoughts on the event and a prompt for constructive criticism. Caroline Shelley, executive chair of CAB, said approximately 300 students attended and that feedback was mostly positive, with just a few suggestions to improve next year’s event.

“It was a highly successful and delicious event, and we plan to continue hosting it in the future,” Shelley said.

Eric Squirewell, vice chair of CAB, was one of the volunteers that helped serve food to the students.

“The event gave students the opportunity to get a taste of other cultures and see what unique dishes they have to offer,” Squirewell said.

FMU senior Kierra McElveen said she enjoyed seeing the cultural overlaps between foods from the U.S. and foreign foods, but that she also enjoyed the completely new foods, such as currywurst.

“I thought it was cool to taste recipes from different places because some of them were so close to the things we already eat,” McElveen said.

She also said she believed it brought domestic and international students closer together.

“I thought it was a good experience, because FMU is the home to many foreign students right now,” McElveen said. “It brought us all together, talking about how we liked or disliked some dishes.”

The cultural food festival takes place every year, and CAB members encouraged students to join if they wished to help plan next year’s event.