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November 8, 2021

SVSU brings cultures together for 23rd International Food Festival

Saginaw Valley State University’s dining hall will turn into a melting pot of delicious dishes from various countries during the 23rd annual International Food Festival. The event, which is open to the public, will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in SVSU’s Marketplace at Doan cafeteria. Admission is $10.50.

Twenty-five students from SVSU’s International Students Club provided recipes from their 12 home countries. They will assist the university’s cooking staff in preparing the dishes, decorating cooking stations and serving patrons during the event.

Binh Dang, a computer information systems major from Vietnam, is one of the students providing a recipe for the event. He views the International Food Festival as a way to celebrate cultures as well as expand palates.

“Every dish is unique and has its own history, making it a part of a country's culture. Sharing food is like sharing a story — an experience that people won't forget,” says Dang, who is president of SVSU’s International Student Club. For the fall 2021 semester, international students make up 3.2% of enrolled students.

Dang says that over the time he’s been a part of the club, it’s started to feel like a home to him.

“Through the International Student Club, college students from all backgrounds can experience and connect with different cultures, as well as promote intercultural understanding through education and personal enrichment.”

Among the dishes featured at the festival:

  • Com tam (Vietnam) — Grilled pork with rice and fish sauce for dipping
  • Chicken karahi (Pakistan) — Chicken curry with vegetables
  • Egg Foo Young (Taiwan) — Chinese omelet with stir-fried vegetables
  • Galbi-gui (South Korea) — Grilled beef marinated in sweet and savory sauce
  • Vermichelli (Senegal) — Chicken, beef and rice noodles with vegetables
  • Banosh (Ukraine) — Cornmeal porridge with cheese, sour cream, bacon and mushrooms
  • Kaese spaetzle (Germany) — Cheesy noodle dish topped with fried onions
  • Enchiladas (Guatemala) — Corn tortillas with lettuce, ground beef, vegetable escabeche (beets, carrots, peas and green beans) and toppings
  • Kartoshka (Russia) — Chocolate cake truffles

Dang’s dish, com tam, which translates to “broken rice,” was first conceived in the 1970s and was mainly eaten by the poor because it was made with rice grains broken during the milling process, which made the product very inexpensive. As a result, this dish became popular in many regions around Vietnam and is now a common street food dish in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dang is no stranger to food services; he works as a student manager for SVSU Dining Services.

“In my role, I have been able to learn more about food as well as customer service. In doing so, I have improved my customer service skills and my food knowledge.”

Pat Shelley, SVSU’s international student adviser, said the festival includes a competition in which visitors can act as judges for categories including best sweet dish, best savory dish, most refreshing, best decorations and best customer service.