Friday, 29 March 2013

'Food' from the University Expat Teen Contribution series


Everybody told me how much I would miss home when I moved ‘up North’. At the time, home was a daily routine that, in retrospect was deeply undervalued. Home is not only the geographical region where ones family lives, but also includes the area's culture, weather, traditions and food. No doubt after living away from home for just over a month international students are now craving the Char Kway Teows, Wiener Schnitzels, Biryanis, Croquettes and Tacos typically served at mealtimes. These are a far cry from the dishes served at the universities catered facilities and unimaginable to the self- catered student now accustomed to microwave and instant meals.

So, what is an international student to do in order to satisfy their cravings for home made dishes, and overcome constant salivation when thinking ‘what would I be eating if I were at home right now’?
Finding the best substitution in the form of a restaurant is a good start. That noodle, meat or rice based meal will abate the hunger once or twice, but be warned: this is only a good temporary fix. The cravings will return once you begin to notice the curries have been sweetened, the seasonings altered and the meats changed due to local availability- or lack thereof- and the Scottish palate.

Self- catered students at least have the essential kitchen facilities to attempt a proper home cooked meal. Perhaps lacking in a mortar and pestle, rice cooker, raclette machine, bamboo steamer and crepe pan, the basic oven and stove should suffice. But which first year student would splurge on filet mignon and remember to marinate it for 24 hours according to mother’s recipe? And who would bother with complicated baking when papers must be written, books must be read and social lives must be led? Not to mention home made meals also require a lot of cleaning up… possibly not worth the high risk of failure when attempting naan and butter chicken.

The quality of food typified by roadside stalls, hawker centres and mum's kitchen can only be achieved whenever the international student returns home and, in that case, indulges excessively until the inevitable return to university life.

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