Home Again, Through the Kitchen
It’s a way of visiting
home. Students from countries abroad concoct their favorite
recipes remembered from days in their youth spent with families,
celebrating food, culture and togetherness. Memories abound,
like cooking rice through the day in a massive pot over a
steady fire, learning to roll sushi with the ideal shape
Students offer recipes
from lands afar on International Students Day.
It was the annual International
Students Day (IS Day), a popular celebration of food and
culture. More than 50 students representing 21 countries
prepared 30 recipes for sale to the college community during
the lunch hour. Hundreds ate well.
IS Day took place on October
24, during Family Weekend, as always, explained Hrayr Tamzarian,
associate dean of international students. For his charges,
the day stands as a sort of counterpart to other students’ family
visits that weekend, he said. Instead of hosting their families
(who don’t typically travel the great distance to visit
that weekend) international students get together and visit
home again through the emotive aromas and flavors, and their
“When you’re far
away from home, food is a very important reminder of where
you came from,” said Shaharzad Akbar ’09, from
Kabul, Afghanistan, as she chopped cilantro for a rich
beef stew from her homeland, and cooked a dish called challow.
“It reminds me of home,” agreed
her fellow Afghani cooking partner Roya Mohammadi ’10. “This
is the closest we can get.”
Hrayr Tamzarian (on
left) assists Ma Thida ’11 (center) and Pyae
Naing ’10, of Myanmar, in making chicken curry.
As the students emphasized,
however, cooking in a Smith kitchen, with its endless supply
of utensils, high-tech gear and sometimes-processed ingredients,
is a far cry from the way they prepared dishes growing up.
And for that, they attest, their concoctions, while reminiscent,
are not quite what their taste buds remember.
“Everything is different
here,” said Pyae Naing ’10, a student from Myanmar
(Burma), whose chicken curry steamed temptingly through the
Morrow House kitchen. “Even onions are not the same.”
Still, said Ma Thida ’11,
Naing’s cooking partner, as she made coconut rice,
it’s the next best thing to visiting home. And according
to the consensus among those participating in IS Day, cooking
their favorite recipes with their international cohorts can
go a long way to providing comfort here, oceans away from
their families and thousands of miles from home.
“When I cook this food,” said
Thida, “I want to go back home.”