Mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb. 20 because the SUB Ballrooms will be transformed into a cultural wonderland you won’t want to miss. Countries from all over the world will be represented at the 33rd annual International Food Bazaar, where international students — in collaboration with other MSU students — will prepare traditional food from their home countries to share with the Bozeman community. Most of the students running the booths will also be in traditional dress, and there will be a myriad of unique performances throughout the evening, from drumming to dancing to unicycling.
“This is not a one person job, it’s a team event,” said Deborah Chiolero, one of the coordinators of the bazaar. Teams start preparing on Thursday and Friday to make their dishes to be shared with about 3,000 people on Saturday. Each team is able to use the MSU food service kitchens in the Union Market, and there is also a crew of chefs to help when needed. The students do almost everything entirely by themselves, from getting ingredients to cooking the food to decorating their booths. Each booth charges between about one and seven dollars per serving of food to offset the costs involved. Whatever is left over is then used for club events and activities. Other costs of the event are sponsored by the MSU Office of International Programs to help MSU become a more culturally aware and enriched place.
There is also an element of competition to the event. Four secret judges will be wandering booths, judging them on their organization, decoration and interaction with the crowd. Most students, however, care a lot more about sharing their cultures than about winning.
“When I see the students interacting and showcasing their countries, it’s amazing to see [their] excitement,” Chiolero said. “The energy is always high. It’s amazing.”
There will be 28 booths this year, representing almost any country you can think of. Among them you will find booths run by students in the International Business Club. One will be a Pakistani table where you can try cardamom chicken and pink tea, both traditional dishes. The students will be wearing traditional Pakistani dress, and decorating with kites and Ajrak, a traditional print.
“Since we Pakistanis like to talk a lot, come and talk and gossip and have fun,” Sobia Anjum, one of the students participating in the booth, said. She has been in Bozeman since August, working on pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. Another booth will feature three different desserts from three different countries: a Canadian dessert called a Nanaimo Bar, Sesame Tahini Cookies from Mongolia and a Filipino sheet cake called Bibingka.
“I think of the food bazaar as a surprise. You never know what you [will] encounter,” Yanwen Xu said. She is from China and has been in the U.S. for two years, studying psychology and international business. Clearly, there is much more to the food bazaar than just food.
“[It’s great] to get the word out that there are so many cultures on our campus,” Chiolero said. Attendees get to meet people from all over the world and get a glimpse of their customs and traditions.
“You don’t need to get out of Bozeman to see the world. Come to the food bazaar, and you’ll be amazed by the culture diversity,” Xu said. It isn’t every day that there is a global street-market right here on campus.
The bazaar will be in the SUB Ballrooms from 4 – 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 20. The event is free for MSU students with a CatCard, $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 10-18, and free for kids 9 and under.
By Isabel Loos