When the cafeteria serves “cultural” food, it usually comes in the form of “Asian Express” on Monday and “Jamaican Beef Turnovers” on Wednesday. While neither of these sounds very authentic, tasty, or vegetarian, the annual International Food Festival, organized by the Foreign Languages department, was able to provide delicious cultural food, along with many vegetarian options.
Outside the cafeteria on Thursday, April 23, many students waited on line to taste food from ten different cultures, including Chinese, Italian, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, German and French. Once the doors opened students hurried to grab their favorite foods.
The Chinese table drew a large and excited crowd. The table sported the largest selection of the 10 and even had a red rope to manage the long line. Chinese food, at three dollars per plate, was also the most expensive. The food ranged from authentic versions of popular take-out dishes to some more obscure choices, like hard-boiled eggs in soy sauce.
The table was great for meat eaters, but a disappointment to vegetarians. There were plenty of chicken and pork fried rice dishes, but vegetable fried rice was not provided. There were also a variety of dumpling choices, but no vegetable dumplings.
The other cultural tables were more modest in size and price-one or two dollars per plate-but were still able to delight the students. They also had shorter lines.
Perhaps most vegetarian-friendly was the Indian table. Almost all of the dishes were vegetarian. The miniature vegetable samosas were both attractive and tasty. “I did not feel limited at the Indian table,” freshman and vegetarian Joseph Frankel said. “It was not like there were vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The food was for everyone.”
The German and French tables were dessert-heavy and thus very vegetarian-friendly. The German table offered cookies and cake, which were consistently good. The French table sold amazing crepes, which were surprisingly neat and easy to serve. The Madeleines-delectable soft pastries with a ‘hump’ on top and ridges below-were equally scrumptious.
The Italian table also supplied a nice balance between vegetarian and meat dishes. Rather than serve solely meat lasagna, the Italian crew provided a meat and a vegetable lasagna, with particularly outstanding cheese.
The Japanese table was also popular. Many sushi options, including a cucumber avocado roll for vegetarians, were offered alongside colorful Japanese candies and desserts. The table offered edameme, a kind of baby soybean.
Contributors to the Spanish table provided rice and beans-not a very unusual or interesting dish, but one of the few Spanish dishes vegetarians can enjoy. There was also flan for dessert.
The event was in general a success, but not without a few problems. Some tables were hard to access because of the crowd. By the time one waited for a line to subside, that table’s food was already fairly cold.
Despite its problems, the Food Festival offered a fun and exciting environment with a fairly large selection of vegetarian food. “I think the Food Festival was successful,” Italian teacher Vito Recchia said. “There was very good food, and incredible participation.” The table attendants were enthusiastic about their dishes and culture, and the eaters seemed equally excited about the food.