The Allegheny College International Club will open up a world of culinary and cultural experiences to the campus community with its annual International Bazaar on Sunday, Nov. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Schultz Banquet Hall.
The event is the culmination of International Education Week, celebrated between Nov. 13 and Nov. 17, and brings together students of various cultural backgrounds to share and celebrate their heritage through food, discussion of foreign nations and a talent show.
The event is built upon the idea of sharing traditional foods from a variety of cultures. Monessha Jayabalan, ’19, International Club philanthropy chair, described how foods will be prepared for the bazaar.
“What students do is they volunteer a recipe that could have been passed down from their family, or they could have just looked it up on Google, literally anything,” Jayabalan said.
In the past, the bazaar has been structured as a dinner with full dishes, but this year’s attendees are invited to taste each of these recipes in what Dipto Mukherjee, ’19, head chef of this year’s bazaar, calls a “sampling buffet.”
Individual tables will represent the country from which the food came, and each table will also feature a tri-fold poster with information on the country as well as students ready to answer questions on their culture, recipe and individual heritage as guests sample the food they have prepared.
Exploring the world will be even easier at this year’s bazaar, according to Shashank Shrestha, ’19, International Club president.
“For the first time we’re gonna have a menu with a map, which is gonna direct the customers where the different countries’ booths are at,” Shrestha said.
Once students have explored the booths and sampled the dishes, the international experience will continue with a talent show.
“The way that works is that students dress up in their traditional garb and as you walk down, the emcee will say a little description about your clothes and people will be able to see what it looks like,” Jayabalan said.
Past performances have included ribbon twirling, yodeling and songs played on a classical guitar, and this year’s performances will include a Bollywood-style performance by Indian students.
The number of countries represented by dishes and these performances has increased from last year’s 18 countries. Shrestha said this year’s bazaar will include more than 20 countries, including Nepal, Brazil, El Salvador, France, Germany, Serbia, South Korea, China and Venezuela.
The International Bazaar is not exclusive to students who have come to Allegheny from these countries, Jayabalan said, explaining that all Allegheny students are welcome to partake and are free to explore whatever country they would like to share with the larger community.
“It’s a cool way for people who are interested in that kind of thing to get involved, because the volunteers we have are not all international students,” Jayabalan said. The only student designated an “international student” on the board of the International Club is Shrestha, according to Jayabalan.
While students may be from a myriad of backgrounds, they all come together to make the event a success, Mukherjee said.
This year, Mukherjee will be collaborating with friends representing Canada. Together, they will prepare a dish from his native country of India, chicken tikka masala. They will also make nanaimo bars, a Canadian dessert. Mukherjee said this collaboration is an example of the teamwork he enjoys most in the staging of the bazaar.
Mukherjee described the dedication of volunteers and particularly of those preparing the food, as preparation for more complex recipes begins as early as two days before the dinner.
“The best part is every time I’ve worked, professors, staff, everybody has come to help me. It’s a great bonding experience,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee said the meal is a perennial favorite among Allegheny students. If tickets sell out before the bazaar takes place, students without pre-purchased tickets will be unable to attend.
“They advertise it as the best meal you can have at Allegheny, and tickets run out pretty quickly,” Mukherjee said.