Globalize your palate

Globalize your palate

By: Danielle Cook ’17, Staff Writer

Not long after Dr. Charles H.F. Davis urged different cultures to “dream together” at LVC’s Inclusive Excellence symposium, Metz started featuring ethnic foods throughout the dining hall, enabling different cultures to eat together as well.

Students may have seen advertisements around campus for Taste Labs that enable interested students to study healthier alternatives to dining hall favorites such as burgers, but that is only one small part of Dr. Robert Valgenti’s Engage, Analyze, and Transform (E.A.T.) Initiative.

According to Valgenti, an associate professor of philosophy, E.A.T., since its inception in the summer of 2013, has strived to “promote and assess the goals of ethnical reasoning, intercultural competence, healthful living, and environmental sustainability,” and Vidiya Lala’s Globalize Your Palate project fits all of that criteria.

Lala, a senior biology student, has been working with Chef John Hopewell from the Metz dining hall to replicate the recipes in a way that is both new and familiar, allowing students to enjoy cultural food without stepping too far out of their comfort zones. An example of this is finding meat substitutes. As Lala is focused on vegetable-heavy meals, international cuisine enables her to find substitutes for meat that are not commonly used in the US.

“Initially, I was planning to tackle the initiative of enhancing one’s understanding and exposure to healthy foods by implementing more plant-forward options in the dining hall,” Lala said. “Faith Viray was planning to implement international cuisines in the dining hall, but ended up studying abroad this semester, so I ended up morphing my project with hers.”

In addition to that, Valgenti believes that the sheer act of trying international recipes fulfills E.A.T.’s hope of uniting people.

“Food has been shown to be a positive force when it comes to overcoming differences—sharing a meal is one of the most powerful illustrations of the host-guest relationship,” Valgenti said. “In the best case scenario, trying a new food might encourage a more open stance towards difference and otherness.”

As a person who identifies with both African and American culture, Lala enjoys how much Globalize Your Plate has personally connected with her.

“I think that both the international and health aspects of the project align well with who I am and what I hope to do,” Lala said. “I personally, love to learn about the cultures of others and hope to instill this very same passion in others. “

However, it seems as though regardless of whether or not a student likes a dish, feedback on Globalize Your Palate has been very positive. Jeanette Tropp, a senior digital communications major, has enjoyed trying the different cuisines.

“Globalize Your Palate is a great program for students who are wild about unique, international foods,” Tropp said. “The options are still tame enough for those who are not as crazy about trying new things but still want to experiment.”

The cultures presented for the rest of the semester are as following:
March 15: Greek
March 22: Indian
March 29: Peruvian
April 5: Egyptian
April 26: Japanese