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Students get their grub on at "Taste of the World," but how was the food?

Students get a taste of different cultures at Int'l Festival Week event, “Taste of the World”

By Andrew Dominick
On April 13, 2011

On Wednesday, April 6, the John J. Cox Student Center was buzzing with students packed into the Faculty Dining Room. A quick look around and all I could see were tables, food, and UB students with plates piled eight inches high. The chatter combined with smacking lips, and the scraping of forks to plates was because of "Tastes of the World," an event held during the International Festival. 

Anytime the term "FREE" is coupled with "FOOD" and you throw college students into the mix, the turnout will be huge. So what was the big deal? It's just food right? I had to get a closer look or rather a taste of what was being served.

I did manage to get around to every table. Here is a list of food, by country, of what was served by students from various clubs, fraternities, and sororities:

        Jamaica-Curry goat, jerk chicken, patties

        Africa-Spicy plantains

        Puerto Rico-White rice & beans, yellow rice, fried sweet plantains, empanadas, pork chops

        Thailand-Pad Thai

        Mexico-Chips & salsa, quesadillas



        India-Naan with curry

        United States of America-Macaroni & cheese, mini red velvet cupcakes

        Mystery Country's Dessert-Something similar to baklava


I managed to stack my plate with nearly everything in the room and pulled off an incredible balancing act in the process of navigating around to each table.

My favorite cuisine, overall, at the event was from Puerto Rico (and that was with the pork chops being gone when I arrived). Both the white and yellow rice reminded me of something you could get in a real Puerto Rican household. The rice was the first thing I ate, and I ate it while I waited in line. Puerto Rico also supplied what was easily the best food item of the day with those empanadas. The beef in the empanada was nicely seasoned and the dough part had the right amount of crunch to chewy ratio. The sweet plantains were just okay but could have been warmer. Another option may have been to make tostones (unripe plantains, twice fried). Both items would allow people to see the difference in textures and tastes. The spicier plantains at the African table were crispier, well seasoned, and better on this particular day. 

The Israeli table was a congregating spot because of the shawarmas they were making. A shawarma is a spiced chicken, stuffed in a pita pocket, with lettuce, other vegetables, and a yogurt sauce. It is a common street food in the Middle East. I was shocked, but thrilled to get a whole sandwich at a tasting event. The chicken was nicely seasoned and the yogurt sauce was creamy, it went well with the lettuce, and complimented the spices on the chicken.

I have an affinity for red velvet cake, so I did want a few more cupcakes. But the dessert from the Mystery Country with nuts and honey in a flaky pastry was my favorite. Even though no one at the table could tell me where it was from or what it was exactly, I still loved the sweetness of it.

One tip for the next "Tastes of the World" event would be to try to keep the food warm in some way. Certain foods were not up to par because they were cold and soggy.

Overall, the event was successful and I ate some things that I would have paid for but I will never complain about free food. Ever.


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