Flavors of the World – Middle East

Last Monday, Oct. 19, 80 students convened at Union South to attend the Flavors of the World: Middle East event. Flavors of the World events are put on through Global Connections, which seeks to bridge the gap between domestic and international members of UW-Madison’s campus community.

On Monday students learned more about the Middle Eastern part of the world, and students from the organizations Hillel, the Arab Student Association and the Madison Association of Turkish Students came to speak and share more about their respective cultures. Food was also provided by these organizations.

_MG_1490 _MG_1447 _MG_1573Naomi Segal describes her experience as a speaker for Hillel, a Jewish organization on campus:

“My presentation was about Israel’s diverse culture and food. I explained that Israel is a new country and has people from all over the world. This diversity leads to a lot of mixed traditions, which combine to make Israeli culture. Some of these different places include, but are not limited to: Morocco, Ethiopia, Russia, Yemen, East Europe, France, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, and America.

A lot of the different holidays, customs, and food are influenced by Israel’s diverse population. For example, I talked about Passover in Israel, which is somewhat similar to Passover in America. But, Passover in Israel is strongly influenced by its diverse Jewish population. For example, Moroccan Jews have a special holiday called Mimouna, which marks the end of Passover. This is a well-known holiday in Israel, but not in America.

I was not sure how students would react to my presentation. It is hard to summarize an entire countries culture and its traditional foods in a 20-minute presentation, and I was worried people might get offended if I left something out. Everyone seemed engaged in the presentation and it looked like the students at the event liked it.

I think that the event brought students from various backgrounds together to celebrate their own culture and learn about other cultures. It was cool to realize that a lot of the different food traditions that the three groups talked about were very similar. It was nice to come together and not discuss politics, but to just enjoy each other’s company.

I represented Hillel as the Israel group and we served falafel and hummus. The Madison Association of Turkish Students served Red lentil kofte and a pumpkin dessert with tahini. The Arabic Student Association served Chicken Kabob and Fattoush Salad.”