Gastronomy, the art of preparing edible dishes, has connected individuals of different cultures for centuries. The consumption and appreciation of phenomenal food may arguably be the best way to connect with others, as it eliminates the limitation of a language barrier and encourages a mutual love for delectable cuisines. This connection was present at the International Food Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 18 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Huddleston Ballroom. UNH has now hosted this event for over 60 years.
Student residents of Fairchild Hall, commonly referred to as the international dorm since it houses many UNH international students, have upheld this tradtion. These students cook and serve multicultural dishes to the university at the luncheon where attendees may enjoy the international cultures through the consumption of staple international cuisines. The event is almost entirely student-run and sources a large portion of food through Holloway Commons. It was one of the concluding events of the university’s International Education Week.
The luncheon displayed dishes that were indigenous to international countries of which the Fairchild residents were from. Among the countries celebrated were Chile, Turkey, Yemen, Nepal, Japan, Cambodia, Kenya, Philippines, Qatar, China, Peru, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Netherlands, Italy and Fiji. About three-quarters of the students in Fairchild were represented with dishes from their home country.
Days of planning and preparation went into the event. An emphasis is placed on presenting food that will be enjoyed by many, and a variety of dietary restrictions are also taken into account. The student-run cooking staff began preparing the food in the Fairchild kitchen facility on Monday morning and worked in shifts until Thursday night. The kitchen facility, which contains two ovens, five burner-stoves, a KitchenAid and more, provided the bulk of infrastructure necessary for the preparation of the luncheon.
According to junior economics major and the luncheon’s planning and kitchen chair Tori Lorvig, the staff was up at 5 a.m. on Friday to finish the cooking process while also ensuring the food was fresh.
Although the execution of the event took a lot of work, Lorvig said the staff really enjoyed it. “Preparing for the luncheon is an important activity for the dorm,” Lorvig said. “It invokes pride for the students’ culture and who they are.”
Among the vast array of students present at the event was junior applied math major Shuhan Liu. Liu, who said her favorite dish was the Qatar-themed Kabasa, was beaming with enthusiasm about the event. “We only have so many chances to eat international food,” Liu said. “It’s different from the experience we get in the dining halls.”
Performances that encompassed international cultures were also present at the event. UNH’s Fia-Chait dance group performed an Irish dance routine at the luncheon. The staff did their best to provide performances that celebrated cultures of countries that were not represented in the dishes. The Vietnamese Student Association also made an appearance as they showcased their culture through a traditional Vietnamese dance.
Also in attendance to the event was sophomore sociology major Rachel Diharce. “This event is really cool because we have a lot of international students here at UNH,” Diharce said. “They immerse themselves in our culture so I think it’s important that we do the same.”
Although the International Food Luncheon took a week to prepare, many students and members of the staff believe it was one of the better events to feature at the end of week. Unlike other International Education Week events, such as Diwali or Pho Night, the luncheon provided an inclusive approach that incorporated many international cultures.
“It was a nice way to close the week because it is a multicultural event so it incorporates many cultures instead of just one,” Lorvig said.