International Food Expo offers taste of culture

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Various dishes from six continents were on full display at the “Hounds Top Chef: Cultural Learning Through Food” event on Nov. 7 in UIndy Hall A. The event was organized by students from two separate Experience Design courses, EXD 101 and EXD 480, and offered an opportunity for students to learn about cultural foods from across the globe as well as the United States.

Each Experience Design student was responsible for a table featuring a poster giving information about the origin of a particular food, often with samples provided. These foods ranged from Vegemite, a yeast and vegetable spread favored by Australians, to regional American dishes, such as Texan chili.

The time period, history and location that inspired or created each food was explained by students and their posters, and visitors could fill out information about each dish for LP credit.

Senior history major Sarah Shorter oversaw the table designated for Eastern Asian food, mostly  noodles. She said that she felt personally interested in the region but also enjoyed seeing the origins of food from the United States being presented.

“I really want to visit South Korea one day, and Japan and China,” Shorter said. “I think it’s really important to learn different cultures, including where different U.S. foods come from.”

Graphic by Andy Carr

Graphic by Andy Carr

Various games and samples allowed participants to actively experience the culinary heritage of each location.

Freshman experience design major Alexis Kavanaugh oversaw the Western European table, which featured various baked snacks common to the region. Kavanaugh explained how using food as a method for experiencing cultures was entertaining to her, especially reactions of participants trying samples.

“I think it’s cool for people to come through and experience these cultures through food,” Kavanaugh said. “I like telling people about the food and watching their reactions as they eat it.”

Many of the tables also provided interactive activities for students to take part in. For example, a Cajun and Creole display allowed students to touch concealed ingredients and attempt to guess what ingredients were characteristic of each cultural background. These ingredients included noodles, rice, spices and squash.

Sophomore marketing major Jordan Nussear said that she particularly enjoyed the Cajun and Creole display because of this activity. Nussear said that it provided a chance to engage the ingredients of the food in an unexpected way.

“I liked how interactive the program was. All of the different countries represented had interesting boards and creative displays,” Nussear said. “My favorite was the Cajun [and]Creole display. The game was a great touch and they had the most creative setup.”

The purpose of the event was to provide a learning experience for students and allow them to enjoy the traditions of the United States and other nations through the universal language of food.

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