During the first few weeks of my first year, my diet mostly consisted of a rotation of burgers and pizza. After a few weeks the excitement of a daily all you can eat buffet started to wear off. However, when the dining hall announced that it would be serving chicken with Thai sauce, I was perplexed yet excited. Having been borned and raised in Thailand, I had never heard of this “Thai sauce”. Did I miss out on something that was so integral to my country my entire life? What secret sauce had I been missing out on? Turns out that the chicken with Thai sauce was a version of the usual boiled chicken legs which was slathered with a gooey brown peanut sauce. I glanced around as onlookers happily inhaled the chicken.
“Do you have this dish often at home”?
I smiled and replied “No. It’s my first time”.
Confused, they changed the subject. Yes, in no way was this chicken a representation of Thai food nor culture. However, the actual taste of the chicken wasn’t terrible and it vaguely reminded me of home, and for that I was grateful.
The dining halls may make up a new dish from our own country or attempt to cook a food that we know and love which may not live up to our expectations. Food is a source of comfort and has the ability to momentarily transport us back home. Even though the “traditional” food served in dining halls may not be the exact version that we remember back home, for me it’s the thought that counts. The dining hall staff are trying to provide us a sense of home, and for others it is a chance to experience new foods that they would not have tried before. I would rather that they try than not at all.
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