I’ve always had a weakness for good food. In fact, during the summer, my family and I celebrate something I’ve dubbed “Big Food Day.” We collect our spare change throughout the year and at the end of August go on an adventure, and eat at a restaurant we might not normally visit. We order enormous quantities of food, eat some of it, and take the rest home, all funded by our familial coin jar. I eat a lot at Big Food Day, as the name might suggest, but with such an array of delicious choices this past Saturday, I think Big Food Day was topped in both quantity and quality by the International Bazaar.
As per tradition, students and families from numerous cultures around the world came together to create an experience like no other for the Blair community: a Blair World’s Fair; a festival of flags; a sweet and savory night of bright clothes, dancing, music, and community. It was the International Bazaar. Beginning with a colorful parade of smiling faces dressed in traditional garb– featuring the Wenners wearing German– the bazaar commenced at 6:45 in the evening with a fashion show with representatives from Sri Lanka, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Jamaica, and more. As soon as it was over, the food stalls of the international plaza were flooded, hungry teenagers reaching past each other for a taste of foreign culture.
Students from every class had come together to put on the feast, and at the head of the line there was Latvia. Run by the Sipols sisters and featuring piparkūkas– or gingerbread cookies– and a sort of bread pastry filled with meat, Latvia had a lot to offer. If I didn’t want to try every other table as well, then I happily would have filled up with meat pastries.
In Ireland there was cheese, soda bread, butter, shepherd’s pie, candies, and potato-leek soup to nosh on. I used to make soda bread on occasion, and I’ve always loved the buttery, crumbly taste. Combined with sweet-cream butter or a slice of cheese…
Irish food, it’s delicious.
Right next door there was food from that great Mediterranean peninsula that once ruled the world: Italy. Blair alum Chris Bottone was there, offering up pizza and cannolis. As to be expected– I mean who doesn’t like cannolis– the food was delectable, though with such a world to see, I couldn’t stay long. Next up: Sri Lanka.
Hosted by a smiling Aavya Dev, a freshman, in Sri Lanka travelers found kottu, fish cutlets, and vade (lentil patties). The fish, round, in a sort of breaded ball, reminded me of crab cakes, and the vade surprised me with its intensity. Sri Lankan food, too, was delicious, but I couldn’t stay long; I moved on to Hong Kong.
Greeting visitors to the ancient port city, once conquered by the British and subsequently released as an autonomous region, were the Baker sisters, Joy Nickel, and John Robinson. Excitedly peddling egg-waffles, pork and shrimp dumplings, and egg noodles, the smiling faces of Hong Kong drew quite a crowd, each traveler eager to get a taste of the irresistible egg-waffles.
The islands of Japan welcomed journeyers, weary from their trek around the world, with mochi and seaweed, and rice balls. A grinning Rachel Ninomiya shared her culture and food with passing travelers of the international plaza, offering delicious, unique choices.
Indian food is perhaps my favorite cultural food group. Dal, samosas, naan, lamb korma, basmati rice, jasmine rice, curries… this list goes on. On Saturday, India, presented by the Sharma family and Matt Dev, offered egg curry, chicken curry, dal, mango juice, and more. Such an extensive and well-laid spread caught the eye of many, and by the end of the night India had become a choice destination on the world tour.
So many other cultures and foods were shared and enjoyed Saturday evening– Thai iced tea, desserts from the Dominican, meat pies from Colombia, quesadillas and punch from Mexico, and of course the famed French cafe, serving crêpes topped with bananas, nutella, and strawberries– before the crowds danced away what remained of the night.
International weekend could not have been more of a success had it really been a World’s Fair. BIAC’s hard work and the efforts of the Language Department paid off in full; the lively festival has brightened January’s nights for years, and is something Blair students from every country on the earth can look forward to.
(Copyright 2017 Tys Sweeney; Photos by Lydia Richardson & Tys Sweeney)