Exotic food trip looks to expose students to new tastes

Francie Johnson

Chinese spring rolls, Israeli salad, Persian ghorme sabzi and Swahili pilau will be some of the many foods served at the Critical Languages Center’s Exotic Food Tasting Trip this Thursday, Oct. 25. The event will be heldfrom 2:30 to 4 p.m. on the second floor of B.B. Comer Hall.

The Critical Languages Center, a division of the Modern Languages Department, has been organizing the Exotic Food Tasting Trip for the past seven years in an effort to expose students to a variety of foreign cuisines, as well as to promote the group’s many language programs.

Each year, the Exotic Food Tasting Trip continues to draw larger and larger crowds. In 2010, around 120 people attended the event, and last year’s event drew a crowd of 150 guests.

Ning Yang, an administrative graduate assistant and Chinese instructor for the CLC, said the event has helped the CLC gain publicity among University of Alabama students.

“[Students] want to come here, try authentic food and appreciate different cultures,” Yang said. “[The Exotic Food Tasting Trip is] more like a cultural fest than a simple promotion.”

Tram Nguyen, a Vietnamese language consultant for the CLC and a senior majoring in management, is looking forward to attending the event for the first time.

“I was immediately drawn to this food tasting trip due to its diversity and its ability to provide different cultural experiences,” Nguyen said.

This year’s menu will represent foods from seventeen different countries and will provide students with the opportunity to gain insight into a variety of cultures by sampling their local dishes. Some meals will be pre-prepared, while others will be cooked on the spot in front of attendees.

Sumi Woo, a Ph.D. student studying political science, administrative graduate assistant and Korean teacher for the CLC, has attended the Exotic Food Tasting Trip four times. She said one of her favorite parts of the event has been learning to cook many of the dishes.

While the Exotic Food Tasting Trip is the CLC’s most popular event, it is only a fraction of what this group has to offer. The Critical Languages Center offers a wide selection of classes in less commonly taught languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Hebrew, Hindi, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese and many others. The CLC hosts foreign movie nights, as well. The movie nights feature a total of 24 movies from 10 countries, and one student will be awarded a free CLC T-shirt at each movie night.

Yang encourages learning a less commonly taught language both for professional reasons and otherwise.

“Learning less commonly taught languages gives students the chance to look at life from a different perspective than they normally would,” Yang said. “One of the first steps a person can take toward understanding someone’s culture is to understand their language.”

For more information on the Exotic Food Tasting Trip or other programs offered by the Critical Languages Center, visit their website at bama.ua.edu/clc or their Facebook page. Students interested in attending the Exotic Food Tasting Trip can pick up a passport, required for entry into the event, in B.B. Comer Room 200 for a suggested donation amount of $6.