‘Food is the ingredient that binds us together’: Students celebrate InterFest


Matt Cooper

Senior Frank Kutilek (Left) and Sophomore Forrest Mayfield whip up a batch of Japanese Yakisoba during Inter-Fest on Tuesday afternoon. The two were one of many who publicly prepared and served dishes to attendees.

Starting at 11 a.m. the sounds of K-Pop music and the appetizing smell of international cuisine filled the air between Neff Hall and the Rhatigan Student Center last Tuesday.

The source was International Student Union’s bi-annual InterFest.

Each year, ISU hosts a take on representing culture, cuisine and music from around the world. Fifteen international student organizations took part and provided culinary samplings from their representative countries.

Varying dishes were offered underneath pitched tents, including samplings from India, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Japan, Pakistan, Nigeria, India and Sri Lanka.

Dishes varied in price from $1 to $3 per serving.

ISU President Srikanth Gampa said InterFest is a welcomed intercultural, face-to-face platform.

“It cuts down on the virtuality,” Gampa said.

He said playing a role in InterFest was an honor.

“I get to see people from different cultures experience different food, music and we don’t want to miss anything,” Gampa said.

Some host participants implored InterFest guests to try their dishes with a fervor difficult to ignore.

Nigerian student Maryam Abdulkareem talked about the magic of her home country’s dish: jollof rice.

“It’s the nation dish,” Abdulkareem said. “People notice the taste. It’s savory and you don’t want to stop eating it even once you are full.”

Jollof rice is a west African variation of pot rice deriving its name from the west African Wolof Empire which ruled from the fourteenth through sixteenth century. The dish consists of steamed rice, curry, thyme and ginger seasoned shrimp, mixed with carrots, onions and chili peppers.

Jollof rice boasts a natural color palette with its wide array of vegetables and spices.

“People back home, they are willing to fight for it,” she added.

The weather for Tuesday’s festival was bright, clear with a hint of breeze. It was nothing less than conducive to a successful undertaking on the part of ISU.

ISU adviser Alan Dsouza commented on the fitting weather in comparison to years’ past.

“One of the issues we face is weather,” Dsouza said. “Today we are blessed. We ordered this weather.”

From Japan Culture Association’s offerings of yakisoba and boba tea, roast mutton tahari, and tuna kebabs to Bangladesh and chicken shawarma compliments of Palestine, attendees seemed content with InterFest’s offerings.

Provost and Senior Vice President Tony Vizzini also indulged in the Interfest offerings at the Mediterranean food tent.

Vizzini said that each year he eagerly returns to ISU’s culinary selection at InterFest.

Two simple words were the summation of Vizzini’s reason for attendance: “the food.”

“It’s good and there are so many different foods to try and flavors to experience,” he said. “The students know their spices well.”

In the end, a sign hanging from Indian Student Association’s food tent epitomized the event.

“Food is the ingredient that binds us together,” the sign read.

“All you need is egg biryani, pineapple pudding and stuffed gulab jamun.”