Food For Thought: ISO food bazaar edition


Hannah Agpoon

Graphic by Hannah Agpoon.

Gabby Hernandez, Contributing Writer

I was stunned when I walked through the doorway of the Harris Concert Hall- — my eyes flickered between all of the tables at the food bazaar filled with delicious food faster than my brain could process. I was overwhelmed by my excitement to eat all the food cooked with insurmountable love by the chefs. I owe to them the happiness of my tastebuds, stomach and heart. 

My first dish, the rose tteokbokki, struck me as it was truly as red as a rose. The menu described it as a spicy Korean dish, and while it did come with a kick, I was caught off guard by the dish’s sweetness. It was remarkably savory and consisted of a variety of pleasing textures from the sauce, rice and Korean rice cakes. The kimchi tuna kimbap, also a Korean dish, was beautifully rolled and as fresh and light as the scent of linen, though it thankfully did not taste like laundry. The seaweed roll and rice let the kimchi and tuna shine by allowing this dish to boast a fresh seafood flavor in the middle of Iowa. It was so delicious that my friends ate most of my serving. I was not upset, though, because it would be a crime to not share food that good.

The meat of the interior of the Mongolian dumplings was unbelievably soft, and the exterior of the dumpling was so structurally sound that I talked about it with my friend studying architecture for fifteen minutes non-stop.

The size and shape of the arepas, a traditionally South American food, made me miss my home, San Antonio, and its street food.

I will dream about the Korean fist rice for months, fondly remembering its fresh crunch and exponentially increasing spice. I was both eager and sad to share this with my friends, as it was one of my favorites. The beef pho noodle soup, a Vietnamese dish, cut such spice easily with its superbly flavored liquid and perfectly cooked meat. 

Eating the paneer butter masala was an overwhelmingly positive experience. You butter believe me when I say that its sweet flavor was remarkably saliva-inducing and that the creamy textures found a playground on my tongue. I loved the use of tofu and how the orange hue of the masala popped on my plate. Consuming this dish highlighted how disrespectful the Dining Hall is to the entire masala food category.

Of similar color to the paneer butter masala was the potato pirozhki, a Russian dish, which sported a beautiful golden exterior over which Gordon Ramsay would cry tears of joy. It was unbelievably soft, so much so that I almost convinced myself that cumulus clouds must be made of this food. That way, I would more easily be able to dream of the delightful potato flavor that was brought out in the most delicate way possible. 

Of a vibrant green hue was the unforgettable North Indian snack — the hara bhara kabab. When eaten with its accompanying sauce, the hara bhara kabab was spicy enough to force me to my cup of water after each bite. My nose leaked mucus of happiness as I consumed this delicious patty of flavor. Its texture was remarkably fun (it reminded me of cookie dough, yum!) and required little effort to chew, which I appreciated. Of similar convenience to eat was the misir wot, also known as Ethiopian red lentils, which fell apart on my tongue in the best way. The misir wot was so mature in flavor that I could imagine a lawyer eating it regularly for lunch.

Rivaling the potato pirozhki in softness were the Indian kathi rolls — I wanted them to roll on my tastebuds for all eternity. Not only were they themselves soft, but they also made my soul soft as it swooned for more. There to lift my spirits was the dango, a delectable Japanese dessert. It was playful in nature and kept me drooling as I chewed through it.

The flavor of the tandoori chicken, hailing from South Asia, sang to me. I was sad to only get one bite because my friend wouldn’t share any more than that. The oyakodon left me speechless. It was so awe-inspiring that I have no other words to express my feelings towards this Japanese dish other than I wish I had spent all five of my food vouchers on it. 

The two desserts I ate shall not leave my memory. The first was a southern United States dish known as banana pudding. I was happy to see this dessert because I grew up eating my aunt’s. She would make trays of this beautiful pudding topped with whipped cream and Nilla wafers, not to be touched until everyone ate the main course. My whole family would keep a close eye on the fridge, waiting for someone else to initiate the pudding feast. Nothing can rival hers, but this one came close. It brought tears of happiness to my eyes as fond memories of family cookouts returned to me, and it was in that moment that I became sad that this dessert is not as common as I thought it was growing up. 

The second dessert I was devastated to part ways with was the Pão de Mel, a Brazilian dessert. The chocolate outer shell of this hauntingly savory cake contrasted perfectly with its inner textures. Its aftertaste was enveloped by a subtle aura of winter holidays. If the Dining Hall were to ever serve this cake, they would run out instantaneously (because I would find a way to stuff all of it into my two allotted to-go boxes and take it home).

As I put on my coat and threw away my trash, my mind began to wander. Grinnell would be bland without the cuisine its students bring from around the country and the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to taste the lovely and love-filled food my peers prepared. Let this article serve as advice to everyone moving forward: show love to your peers and your taste buds by getting a ticket to the next food bazaar.