UMSL International Food Festival

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April 12, 2022

By Jane Lee

On March 9, the International Food Festival was held by the University Program Board (“UPB”). A lot of students and faculties had an opportunity to have different kinds of dishes from six different countries. We could also see new international students also had a great time joining other exchange students around the world. Food can be the one that represents each country, and people had a really good time talking about their own culture and getting to know parts of the culture of South Korea, Venezuela, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and France.

The UPB is the student programming board at the University of Missouri—St. Louis (UMSL). UPB has interesting upcoming events such as Sunshine Coffee Bar, Axe Throwing Explore, Laser Tag Brawl, and Mirthweek Carnival! If you are interested in those events, please go to UMSL’s MyEngage website for more details.

Korean Fried Chicken, which was the first dish people got served at the festival, is one of the dishes that can represent South Korea. Deep-fried chicken became popular in Korea around the 1960s and 1970s, strongly influenced by U.S-Korea culinary exchange. In the 1980s, Korean chicken restaurants started to add sweet and spicy sauce to the fried chicken, and that became one of the Korean specials, called “Yangnyeom Chicken,” which means marinated fried chicken in Korean. I prefer fried chicken with the sauce over just fried ones because I love the sweet and spicy sauce they use, and I could still feel the crispiness of the fried chicken. It is so hard to stop eating once you take the first bite!

Biryani prepared by a UMSL student for the International Food Festival.

Biriyani is a fried rice dish with meat, vegetables, and spices. This dish was introduced as a Pakistan dish at the festival. The origin of the dish is hard to tell because Biriyani is consumed not only in Pakistan but also in India and countries around India and Pakistan. Where the dish evolved is India, and the dish is one of the most popular dishes in the Indian subcontinent. There is a little doubt that Biriyani originated from Iran because the word for fried rice is “birinj biriyan” in original Persian. For me, Biryani tasted really good with the light seasoning, which adds flavor to the dish. The flavor was not that strong, which made me keep eating the dish with the other sides as well.

Arepa, which is a dish that could be explained as a staple in the north of South America since pre-Columbian times, is a round shape of cornmeal bread with stuffing such as meat, cheese, or beans. This dish is the most popular food in Colombia and Venezuela, and many people eat Arepa on a daily basis. The Arepa I tried was made with taco shells instead of cornbread, and it was still good with taco shells. Vegetables inside gave freshness to the marinated meat. I was wondering about the taste of Arepa with cornbread—I will definitely try one with cornbread in the future!

Lentils are a well-known superfood, and they remain a staple in the Middle East and Indian diets and popular cuisines in the world. Lentils help lower cholesterol and may benefit those at risk for heart diseases and diabetes. Lentil has such a long history; the lentils were found in royal tombs at Thebes dating to 2400 BC. The ingredients depend on the country, and Egyptian lentil soup has purred lentils with meat, vegetables, and spices. I personally like this kind of soup dish, especially on winter days, and the lentil soup was the perfect soup for chilly days. It was also lightly flavored, so it did not feel heavy at all.

Gulab jamun, the syrup-soaked delight, is a popular choice of dessert across the Indian sub-continent.

Gulab Jamun is a dessert that is popular across the Indian subcontinent. Those are made with Khoya, which is prepared by mixing milk solids. In north India, they make Khoya with flour and semolina. The mixture is then shaped into small balls and deep-fried until their color turns brown. After deep-frying, they are soaked in sugar syrup and served with sliced nuts such as cashews and almonds. I am a person who really enjoys dessert after a meal, so Gulab Jamun was the perfect dessert wrapping up the meal. The milk solid goes really well with the syrup, and the sliced nuts give a fun texture to the dessert as well.

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