International Food Day is a light of cultural diversity capable of bridging social barriers, unearthing rich tradition, and introducing exciting flavors to the lucky Gauchos who gathered on the SRB Lawn Nov. 18 to consume tasty morsels from across the globe. International Food Day was the Office of International Students and Scholars’s proud approach to sharing culture through food in conjunction with their International Education Week.
Studying ingredients, preparation techniques, which gender hunts, cooks, and the socioeconomic conundrums of which and why certain food groups were meant for different social classes can unlock millenniums of history.
Indus, a South Asian culture club, shared their filling, delicious samosas and chai for the very agreeable prices of one samosa for $3.00, two samosas for $5.00 and a cup of chai tea for $1.00. Samosas are a fried snack filled with potatoes, peas and spices commonly served as a breakfast food. Their chai was a black tea with cinnamon, cardamom, and a heap of other delicately balanced spices.
“Fun fact: Way, way back in ancient times in India [samosas were] a very popular dish to serve kings,” said Indus’s co-president Pranati Shah. “Now it’s a really popular street food and snack item. You could walk down the streets of New Delhi, which is India’s capital, and find a guy with a cart selling Samosas and Chai.”
Second year economics major Jack Krull bit into the crisp fried exterior of his first ever samosa, topped with a sweet-and-spicy mint chutney;
“It brings me to a place where it is foreign but familiar,” Krull said. “Something about it is nostalgic you know? They used the same stuff that I would use at home but in a way that I wouldn’t think of. Happy to be eating a dish made for kings.”
While combining a bite of samosa with a sip of chai, Krull said, “They pair super well together. There’s something about that little zing of the spice in both of them. It definitely creates that atmosphere you want in your mouth.”
A plethora of other international groups graced the SRB Lawn that day. The International Student Association shed some light on social norms that students who were raised in the United States wouldn’t consider, like what to do for Thanksgiving. It isn’t easy to take a 12-hour one-way plane flight for a four-day holiday. And if there are layovers and dramatic time zone changes, forget about it. However, it was very encouraging to know that affordable, exciting and uniting events exist to ease the social and geographic gap.
The international student association’s biggest annual event is an all-inclusive four-day trip to Yosemite. They’ll have about 40 students going over the 2016 Thanksgiving Holiday.
UCSB prides itself with having a richly diverse student body, and, after tasting the food at International Food Day, I’d say the same should go for its culinary identity.