ORONO, Maine — The aroma of foods typically not found in Maine enveloped those who stepped into the University of Maine’s Field House on Saturday enticing them to taste the worldly cuisines of Culturefest ’08.
Exchange students dressed in traditional garb of their native counties served up the edibles to hundreds of residents from all over Maine, fellow students and faculty who attended the 21st annual festival, sponsored by the university’s Office of International Programs and National Student Exchange.
“I had something Pakistani and my mouth was on fire, but it was wonderful,” said Hermon resident Tara Shelley, who brought her children to the festival, and met up with youngsters from Cub Scouts Pack 25.
Nitu Gongal, of Kathmandu, Nepal, who is a senior studying accounting, wore a black Sari dress with gold details while she served up a delectable coconut treat called a raddoo.
“It’s actually a dessert. It’s offered to God as good luck,” she said while handing one to Orono resident John Halloran.
Halloran purchased the raddoo for Leslie Hudson, also of Orono, who spent time in Nepal 20 or so years ago doing research and environmental education.
“Both of us have traveled and worked overseas a fair bit” and wanted to experience a little culture at home, she said. “It’s sort of lacking in Orono most of the time. If your not on campus, you don’t get to interact” with the numerous cultures represented at UMaine.
In addition to food from Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico and others, there also was a Canada booth with Tim Hortons coffee.
Members of the university’s International Student Association made the dishes to share, while others performed traditional dances. Culturefest also included a fashion show, informational tables, presentations and the opportunity to learn classic games from around the world.