Last night was our semester's potluck for the MEM program. Oh, it was so good. So many kinds of curry. One Bangladeshi fellow was saying how HOT these chicken legs were and I ate 'em. And they were good. I had to take a breather from time to time, it was so spicy, but it was good. American restaurants seem to just not know what spicy is.
There was so much good food. There was this one potato roll thing, I think from Peru?, that had raisins and veggies and a hard boiled egg inside. Favorite! I am still a big fan of Nepali samosas. The Chinese chicken salad was pretty tasty, too. Home-made by four Chinese guys at a friend's house. They later did a presentation of Shanghai, which is where they are from. A university in Shanghai has an exchange program with our university, and they are who came over. One fellow actually used to work for the metro trains in Shanghai and was pleased with our bus system here in St. Cloud. He got the most laughs of the picture of him in a butterfly apron making Chinese Crystal cakes.
We also had presentations from students of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the Bangladeshi and his Minnesota wife presented Bangladesh.
I have to admit that the presentation for Saudi Arabia irked me. Maybe it is just that country that irks me. All of that wealth and overt displays of it. It's a monarchy - really no citizen representation - and all of the buildings are named after King this and Prince that. They have so much money they don't know what to do with it. One prince is planning a building that is one mile tall - just because. Saudi Arabia is a desert, so one anecdote the presenter made was that a gallon of water costs twice as much as a gallon of gasoline. And the King has the tallest water fountain in the world. That just makes me crabby. An amusing point, however, was when he showed all of the Saudi Arabian bills and there was some confusion until he realized some of us in the room can't read Arabic numbers. He was remarking on the 500 Riyal note and we didn't know which one he meant! Their 2s look kind of like 7s.
To be fair, I was a little wary of the presentation of China, as well. I think the recent stories in National Geographic have tainted me - you hear about so much poverty in the country and then see all of the money they spent on the Olympics and now on the 2010 World Expo. But, I'm American, and you shouldn't throw stones in glass houses, so they say. I'm lucky to live in an area of my own country where there isn't as much poverty as, perhaps, Mississippi or Alabama. I imagine my very small exposure to their country is about as fair as what they may see of ours. When I was scarfing down five different kinds of curry (the professor from Korea was in front of me in the buffet line and brought his young son, warning him that this curry would be different from the Korean curry they have at home), I was sitting with the Bangladeshi couple and one of the Chinese professors. He was saying how impressed he was with "Minnesota Nice" and how different we are from people in LA. The Bangladeshi agreed, saying we were much different from people in New York, where he had lived previously. I joked that we HAD to be nice so that when our cars died in the winter, someone would give us a jump.
I did not know much about Malaysia before the presentation, so I'm glad that Kien talked about his home country. It is made up of mostly three kinds of people: Malays, Chinese, and Indian. I had only heard of one of the fruits that he showed: durian. It is supposedly the most pungent of all fruits (he didn't think "stinky" because he actually likes it). Another he said was just like a kiwi but brown on the inside. Most of the audience is from India and I think they were surprised by the number of similar traditions and dishes in Malaysia - probably due to their large number of Indians.
I also did not know much about Bangladesh before the presentation. The student who presented is actually the son of a diplomat and didn't know a lot about Bangladesh first hand as they had moved around a lot. I did not realize that it was originally an Indian state, then part of Pakistan until 1971 when his "Indian brothers," as he called them, helped them get independence. They say it is humid here in Minnesota during the summer, but his wife visited Bangladesh during their summer and it was even more humid. It is a country of rivers, she said, and most of the pictures of her from there just make her look drippy.
The new professor who taught my Operations Management course last semester is just this little wisp of a woman - she'd make viksin
look tall. She's a vegan and kept asking if different foods had egg in them. But, she's smart as a whip and brought this delicious creamy mango beverage. Very tasty! The closest thing I can compare it to is slightly melted sorbet, but milder, less sugary or acidic, and creamier. Goes down smooth.
The Nepali dumplings were very good - although I think I liked the vegetarian ones better than the non vegetarian ones. (Vegetarianism seems to be very common amongst Indian folk as the Hindu religion prohibits them from eating cows (sacred animals) or pigs (dirty animals)). I'm note sure who brought it or where it was from, but one of the desserts was this purple liquid stuff with tiny clear balls in it along with some cut up bananas? and other fruit. It was also tasty, but the soupy consistency threw me for a loop - I kept looking for something I was supposed to be pouring it on as a sauce. I ended up just eating it with a spoon. It was mildly amusing that it sat next to ice cream and some Little Debbie snacks.
All in all, it was a very satisfying evening. I went home sleepy with a belly full of food I can't pronounce. And it was goooooooood. I will miss this night when I graduate.