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Taste of Nations celebrates culture, cuisine

They're cooking up something special at Dickinson State University on April 20, inviting the community to bring their tastebuds on tour, 'rounding the world in eight meals. "We have such a great multicultural presence on campus, especially with i...

Indian biryani, a spicy rice dish, is one of the featured menu items at this year's Taste of Nations, organized by Dickinson State University international students. (iStock)
Indian biryani, a spicy rice dish, is one of the featured menu items at this year's Taste of Nations, organized by Dickinson State University international students. (iStock)

They're cooking up something special at Dickinson State University on April 20, inviting the community to bring their tastebuds on tour, 'rounding the world in eight meals.

"We have such a great multicultural presence on campus, especially with international students," said Perzen Akolawala, director of multicultural studies at DSU, in a phone interview. "We thought, what would be a better way to bring people together then serving different kinds of food?"

An annual event since 2005, excluding a three-year hiatus, the Taste of Nations is primarily student-led and student-run, with international students sharing their cultural dishes, preparing the menu and creating the meals themselves. It will be held in the student center dining hall.

"This is an entire event that is really from start to finish put on by the students," Akolawala said. "They get together, they create a menu and they would kind of short-list their dishes. We make sure the ingredients are at least locally available ... and they kind of have some input into designing the posters and tickets ... they basically execute the entire event."

Some of the students have had to go as far as Bismarck to acquire what they need, but the diversity of dishes on display appears well worth the effort.

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This year will feature eight nations: South Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Honduras, Switzerland, Tunisia and Nigeria.

The menu will contain Indian biryani, a spicy rice dish; Jamaican jerk chicken, prepared using a cooking style native to Jamaica; there'll be short ribs from South Korea and lemonade from Tunisia. There'll be a special dish from Sri Lanka that's been described as an "accompaniment" to a meal. Additionally there'll be Swiss desserts and delicacies from Central and Latin American, as well as vegan and vegetarian dietary options. "I'm just excited-we always try to do more than last year," Akolawala said. "Last year we served at least 300 people, that includes the students ... we try to up ourselves."

The International Club at DSU, which is open to both domestic and international students, serves as a means of bringing students together.

"It's just about multi-cultural events, we do taste of nations, the global gala-I think it's just something that bonds the students together," Akolawala said. "They're all sailing under the same boat, they're all homesick, so it kind of integrates them to campus. They feel there is somebody who is like them. We take some trips with them, we go to Bismarck to the heritage museum, we go to the state Capitol, we go to Mount Rushmore-it's just getting them out and about."

In a press release provided by DSU, there was a comment from Mark Billings, program coordinator for Best Friends Mentoring in Dickinson.

"We try to attend as a family because we enjoy sampling the ethnic food," Billings said. "We have hosted several youth exchange students in our home and sharing in native cooking has always been a highlight of our time together. There is no other event in the region like Taste of Nations."

Tickets cost $12 for adults if purchased in advance, and @10 for children ages 7-12 and DSU students with valid ID. Tickets cost $14 at the door for adults; students with a meal plan or children under the age of 6 eat for free. Tickets can be purchased in advance in May Hall room 205. All proceeds go to to help subsidize future educational and recreational trips for the students.

Related Topics: DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY
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