Food for Thought
Food for Thought
  • Reporter Kim Eun-ji
  • 승인 2010.03.24 10:11
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Insight into What Foreigners Eat in POSTECH

Like Mark Twain, an American novelist in the 19th century, said, “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” Cooking or eating a mouth-watering meal is the one of the biggest joys in life that applies to perhaps every human being regardless of one’s nationality. Sharing delicious food bonds people together to become friends and dining at a fancy restaurant channels the way for social networking.

As crucial as food is as a primal necessity of life, a stay in a foreign land can turn out to be quite miserable if the food does not suit the traveler. How is the food in the POSTECH campus, a reclusive area of Pohang where students mainly take care of their meals inside the school, especially from the eyes of international students?

The Postech Times dined with Indian and Pakistani students, whose populations take up the largest part of the POSTECH international community.

The largest religion in India is Hinduism (80%), followed by Islam (15%) which is the major religion in Pakistan (96%). Their cooking in the DICE dormitory rather than finishing their meals elsewhere is not because of maladjustment to the unique taste of Korean food. The problems lie fundamentally with their religions.

Most Hindus are vegetarians and all Muslims eat halal food. Halal food is that which is appropriately prepared or slaughtered according to Islamic law. Halal food is rare outside Islamic countries, as in South Korea, which restrains the Muslims residing in such places to eat almost like vegetarians.

▲ A group of Indians and Pakistani dining in the DICE kitchen
“Strictly speaking, there is no food for vegetarians in POSTECH. There are some vegetable and fish dishes to eat in the cafeteria but they either are always the same or not available at all. We have no choice but to cook for ourselves,” explained Nisar Ahmed, a Ph.D student in the Department of Chemistry.

There are currently four options for dining in this school. The main ones that Korean students use are the Freedom Cafeteria (with A, B and C corners) and the Snack Bar. The others are the Wisdom Cafeteria and Burger King. One of the reasons for the creation of the C corner of the Freedom Cafeteria was to meet Westerner’s daily requirements, but even this does not help the non-meat-lovers among international students.

Kumar Prashant of the Department of Mathematics questioned, “Some dishes are named ‘vegetarian fried rice,’ for instance, but along with the vegetable there is  always some ham inside it. How can you call that vegetarian?”

▲ Cooking curry with japati
In the kitchen of the DICE dormitory, the cupboards are all marked with names of various countries. Students keep their special spices or ingredients inside. “We get our food from a vendor who comes from Busan every last Sunday of the month. There we meet many Indian and Pakistani people and we buy halal food. Others buy it through the Internet from Seoul,” said Ahmed who claimed to have started cooking since his coming to POSTECH.

Prashant commented, “Cooking is enjoyable. Friends meet in the kitchen and we can eat together. But there are times when you want to eat something else;  however there are not many foreign restaurants in Pohang. It will be very nice if there is something for the vegetarians on the campus.”

POSTECH recently took the first step towards quenching the language difficulties of foreigners through the declaration of the Bilingual Campus. However, the university should make detailed efforts, in areas rudimentary as accommodating the needs of student’s meals, to become a truly globalised campus.