Paella, Gummy Bears, and More at the International Food Festival

On Monday, February 24, students clamored inside the the upper floor of Thomson House to try foods from all over the world at the International Food Festival 2020, hosted by the McGill chapter of Borderless World Volunteers. 

The purpose of the event is to raise money for various grassroots charity organizations that the club volunteers with during the summer.

Last year, Borderless World Volunteers sent groups to grassroots NGOs in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, and Nepal, where they aided Ruwon Nepal, an organization dedicated to decreasing gender disparity in education and promoting women’s rights. Many of the group’s projects also focus on environmental sustainability, including volunteering at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve at Chrripó National Park, Costa Rica.

At the event, students were welcome to five food items and a drink with the purchase of a $20 ticket. The foods included everything from tacos, paella, vegan gummy bears, and even select items from Chef on Call. Almost all the food was donated by Montreal restaurants or by international student societies. The process of planning for this event had taken several months, and included making sponsorship packages outlining Borderless World Volunteer’s mission and giving them to restaurants in the hopes of receiving donations.

Aiman Abdoul, from the Malaysian and Singaporean Student Society, was serving a popular Malaysian dessert called Kek Batik, a very sweet cake made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, Milo powder, and crushed Marie biscuits. “The pattern of the dessert represents a South East Asianwavy form of art,” explained Abdoul. “This dessert tries to emulate that in a way.”

The Japanese Student Society was also represented at the event by co-president Emiri Oda. She was serving homemade Inarizushi, a type of sushi made with sticky sushi rice wrapped in a sweet and salty tofu skin wrapper. The food item, according to a Japanese legend, is supposed to resemble fox ears, because foxes were the messengers of Shinto god Inari, after whom the dish is named.

“It is very popular in Japan, you don’t really see it here though,” said Oda. The dish is not often seen on Japanese restaurant menus in North America, but it is often served in sushi restaurants in Japan, or it is made at home.

The event, which has been running since 2003, has changed a little in the past few years. “It’s such a bigger turnout than last year,” explained Kamille Snell, one of the co-chairs for the International Food Festival Committee. Approximately 70 people came in 2019, many of whom purchased tickets at the door. This year, the venue was switched to Thomson House, which offers a larger space than the conference room it was previously held at in the Brown Student Services Building.

The festival, which lasted from 5 pm to 8 pm, also included entertainment. There were performances by McGill dance groups Urban Groove, Inertia, Mosaica, and an A Capella performance by Effusion.

Talia Crawford, co-chair of the Food Festival Committee, told the Bull and Bear what her favorite thing is about the festival. “I love how the community comes together to eat good food and meet new people.”


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