You have Big Bad VooDoo Daddy to thank for this post. My serious craving for some good swing music dragged me down to the computer lab around midnight and so here I am. Why am I craving swing music? Tonight was the culmination of International Week here at AUBG with the International Taste Fest. Different groups from different countries get together to cook up traditional meals for everyone and at the end perform traditional dances. I guess to work off all the food we just ate.
You're probably wondering what on earth this has to do with me sitting downstairs at nearly one in the morning listening to swing music. I'm getting there I promise. The International Taste Fest was to put it simply, AMAZING. I am so glad that I didn't talk myself out of going since I haven't been feeling so great all day. So many different smells and foods. I honestly didn't know where to start other than I knew I had to try Kazakstan since two of my roommates were working there. I also had some food from Macedonia, Spain, and the US (yes I ate US food at an international event deal with it). From Kazakstan I had what resembled won ton wrappers stuffed with pork (I think, it was a substitute for horsemeat) and beans and several spices along with fried bread strips with a dusting of sugar. Both of these were really good. My roommate told me the name of the meat things, but I honestly couldn't tell you to save my life. From Macedonia I had a kind of -for lack of a better comparison-cross between poundcake and cornbread with dried pork on top. At first I was not expecting the things on top to be pork. It surprised me to discover that it was meat and not fruit like I originally thought. It was actually really good. From Spain I had some kind of meatballs and a Spanish Omelete, once again both were delicious. Finally from the good ol' USofA I had apple crumble which was completely amazing and cornbread, which as much as I hate to say it was not cornbread, at least not how it's made in the south. Sorry guys, but cornbread is not sweet or moist. Anyways I digress.
It was complete pandemonium trying to get to the tables. I'm still amazed that I didn't drop my food as many times as people bumped me or ran into me. It was first come, first service. My Russian roommmate told me that their table ran out of food within 15 minutes. I have no doubt about this since I couldn't even SEE the table for Russia through all the people. After I had had my fill of food I wondered around the room looking at everyone in their traditional dress with their food and flags. Macedonia by far had the most colorful layout by far, with their brightly colored tableclothes, food spread, and their red and yellow sunburst flag could be seen from all corners of the room.
A girl in traditional garb from Macedonia with the flag displayed behind her
Some of the other countries being represented were Ukraine, Bulgaria, Spain, Mexico, Japan, China, Netherlands.... There were so many, it's hard to remember who all was there nearly a month later. Here are photos of a few of them.
The US team in their t-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes; the American wardrobe staples
Kazakstan (That's my Roommate in the stripes)
Ukraine (I thought the wig was a nice touch)
When all the food was consumed or nearly consumed, it was time to move on to the dancing portion of the evening. This is where the whole swing music thing comes in. We'd been treated to traditional food and traditional dress, now it was time for traditional dance. Everyone cleared the middle of the room for a dancefloor and each country took the stage to perform. Each country except the US, because let's face it, when it comes to dress and dance we are severely lacking in the traditional department. It was fascinating to watch some of the dances being performed. I believe my favorite was Georgia (the country, not the state). It was so energetic and astonishing in it's movement. Well, I'll just let you see for yourself as I have video of it. I can't really figure out how to explain it.
Georgian students perform some traditional dances
It was while watching these dances that I thought about how lacking the US is in traditions. This whole week was kind of a reminder of that. It's kind of depressing when you want to proudly represent your country and you can't really do that. Of course, I can understand why we don't really have any kind of traditional dance or anything seeing as how we are made up of so many different cultures and ethnicities. It is impossible to derive any one common demoninator from this equation that can represent who we are. Some people may say, well what about square dancing or bluegrass? Both were derived from traditional English music and dance. Technically macaroni and cheese isn't even American. The only thing I could think of that might be even remotely considered as music native to the states was jazz and swing. Hence my craving for swing music and something that might be slightly traditional. Of course, not everyone (myself included) knows how to dance jazz or swing, so we were still pretty well out of the running. It was a nice thought though.
Taste Fest and International Week in general were both a smashing success here at AUBG and it's always one of the most anticipated events of the year. While the Americans were a traditionless lot, I still loved every minute of the experience and getting to see my fellow students displaying their national pride.