This past Friday was the 2012 Taste of OSU. Hosted by the OSU’s Office of International Affairs, the event brings some 4,000 guests to the Union to experience food and culture from all over the world. More than 30 student groups provide the recipes, do the cooking and share a bit from their home countries. Even more share cultural performances, from dragon dances to Bollywood showstoppers.
I love this event because people from all over the world who have joined the OSU family, come together to cook food that says, “this is what it tastes like in my country,” “this is what my mom makes on my birthday,” “this is the food that we have when we celebrate.” These are moms’ recipes. Moms that may be many thousands of miles away. But at this event, it’s a chance to share a taste of something that reminds these students of home. Proust’s madeline.
I had the good fortune to be asked to judge. I was very excited. Not only would I get a chance to sample a good variety of the entries from the 30 plus international student groups, but I got a chance to see some of the recipes. Imagine my delight at being able to peruse the Russian Club’s beef stroganoff and blinis! The Thai Student Association’s Green Curry Chicken! The Somali Students Association’s rice!
The six finalists were the Russian Club, the Somali Students Association, Habesha Student Organization, Lebanese Student Association, the Organization of Arab Students and the Sri Lankan Student Association. They all produced delicious dishes.
But the standout for us was the Habesha Student Organization. And they won it with their lentils. I scooped up some lentils with injera bread. My eyes lit up. This is something special. Savory, perfectly seasoned. Delicious. Greedily, I flipped through the half-inch thick book of recipes. Searching, searching. I found the list of ingredients.
Crestfallen, I knew in a moment that there were not just three ingredients in that amazing lentil dish.
I knew Mom didn’t share her secret spices this time. She didn’t share what makes her lentils better than anyone else’s. Because sometimes, you have to grow up with her to be given the secret. But if anyone asks her what makes it so special, I’m sure she’d smile and tell you it’s love.