Student Speak: How international students get fix of home food

Living away from home can mean a lot of changes for many students, but the experience can be dramatically different for international students and those who have spent much of their lives growing up in another country.

Food is an integral part of a culture that becomes embedded in a person’s lifestyle over time. A diverse city like Atlanta offers many restaurants that reflect the varied tastes of its occupants.

However, some national dishes are harder to come by than others, and like sleeping in a different bed or driving a new car, going without something that one has grown accustomed to can lead to serious withdrawals.

For some international students, their favorite dishes and other favorite foreign fare can be found just a car ride away or without even leaving the house.

“I love all kinds of Korean meat, Korean barbeque. I go to restaurants in Korea Town, and there are special events in the iHouse like iKorea where we cook foods from different places,” said Joon Kim, a fourth-year CHBE major from Korea.

On the other hand, some students find it a bit more challenging to get a taste of home here in Atlanta.

“The most [typically] Danish food I buy is from Ikea, where they sell a rye bread mixture. Iit’s really the closest you can get to the Danish bread anywhere around here,” said Birgitte Krag, a second-year CM major from Denmark.

Some are lucky and find restaurants that cater to their tastes. “ I know there is a restaurant called Babette’s Café nearby, named after the title of a Danish movie.

I think it’s actually mostly European or French, but it also has some Scandinavian food,” Krag said.

When the search for cultural delicacies yields less than fruitful results, sometimes preparing their own traditional dishes is the best way for students to satisfy their longing for that elusive national cuisine.

“There’s a kind of thin yogurt called koldskål that I had for Valentine’s Day that’s really good,” said Michala Mathiesen, a second-year CM major from Denmark.

Usually made with buttermilk, raw eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon, koldskål is a dish that is especially popular during the warmer months in Denmark.

Yet, luckily for some, the traditional fare of some countries can be very similar to foods found in the United States and somewhat easier to come by.

“I would eat lots of different vegetables, potatoes, lamb, cabbage, salmon and rashers, or back bacon, which is very lean and doesn’t have as much fat as the bacon you get here,” said Conor O’Malley, a third-year EE major from Ireland.

Traditional dishes are not always a rare commodity and many cultures can be fairly represented in one’s diet with simple recipes and nearby dining.

“I like beans on toast, porridge and fish and chips, all very English,” said Nikita Rao, a third-year STaC and ALIS major from India who was raised in the United Kingdom.

“There’s one [dish] that’s native to my region of India, it’s like a lentil and tomato-based soup with lime and spices, and you mix it in with rice called rasam or saaru. There’s also a place that sells food that’s close to Indian street food called Chat Patti, and a North Indian restaurant called The Palace, but of course my mother’s home food’s the best,” Rao said.