Let’s hop back into this blog by playing catch-up. There have been quite a few events, lectures and conferences that I have attended since I posted here last year.
As some readers may remember, the geography club at my university has Cultural Night, an evening out at a particular ethnic restaurant to celebrate and learn more about that culture. Last year we went to three different places.
In February, we went to Nomad Asian Bistro, which serves handmade Chinese cuisine. The dish that everyone raved about was the one serving their handmade flat noodles. And yes, it was good. According to Nomad’s website, they serve not only the well-known Chinese dishes but also Hui specialties, which they state come from the Hui tribe who originated along the Silk Road. The Hui food culture stems from a mix of traditional (Han) Chinese food as well as Mediterranean, Persian and Middle Eastern due to the influences of travelers along the Silk Road. You can read more about the Hui tribe here.
In March, instead of going to a restaurant we decided to take advantage of the amazing Pow Wow that is held right on campus every year. Originally the land that my university sits on belonged to the Puvunga people who still consider it a sacred place and thus hold a Pow Wow there to celebrate their cultural heritage.
There is also an area across from one of the parking lots that is still used by the Puvunga people for rituals, celebrations and as a gathering place. During my very first geography class, we took a field trip there to learn more about the great diversity among our campus. Technically I myself am 1/4 Cherokee, but since I’m not part of a tribe or officially practicing the culture, it’s hardly fair to call myself Native American except by blood alone.
But back to the food. Because that is certainly one of the highlights of attending the Pow Wow. First would be the amazing dances that tribal members perform. You can view an old post I wrote about the Pow Wow, “Go there: Puvunga Pow Wow” to see more.
When it comes to the food, there is nothing better than devouring one of their AMAZING Indian/Navajo tacos. The tacos are made from Fry Bread (unfortunately not a healthy meal but so delicious who would care?).
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, fry bread came about around the mid- to late-nineteenth century as the Native Americans were being relocated and confined to certain areas. Part of the rations they were given included white wheat flour, which they turned into a deep-fried dough now called fry bread. As for the fillings, there are many different variations among tribes including pumpkin, squash, fruits, beans, chili, cheese, onions, tomatoes, and so on. You can view many different recipes based on the tribes at this site: Native American Information.
The tacos at the Pow Wow are served with a choice of ground beef or turkey, then lettuce, tomato, cheese and beans. The fry bread though is the key and what makes these tacos irritable. Sometimes I dream about them and when I attend the Pow Wow, which is every year, I always get as many as I can carry.
Even Buzzfeed raves about them. See the video below.
In April, we visited the Himalayan Grill, which serves Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan food. While the venue is small, they had no trouble fitting in our large group of geographers. As for the food, it unlike anything I’d had before. Not only do they have a wide variety of dishes but some less familiar ones as well, such as mango chicken, samosas (deep fried pastries filled with mashed potatoes and vegetables), vegetable pokoras (deep-fried mixed vegetables), Himalayan sweet bread and so on.
(Forgive the poor quality cell phone photos. They are all I have.)
Tibetan cuisine can be found in both India and Nepal as the people live in both countries. Tibetan cuisine consists of noodles, goat, yak, mutton, cheese, dumplings, butter and soups. The staple food is mostly grain, specifically barely, and meat and dairy play a big role. Rice is not as common, mostly found in lower regions and vegetables and fruits were not commonly eaten until recently due to the difficultly to grow them in that particular climate.
This concludes last year’s Cultural Nights. I hope this inspires you to go out and try new foods and learn more about different cultures around the world. Food is the great way to bring all types of people together so go explore and eat great food while you’re at it!