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International food fiesta feeds friends

By Owen Fishwick | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-05-04 09:04

International food fiesta feeds friends

Mongolian students serve up tasty treats at the 7th Jiangnan University Food and Culture Festival on April 28. [Photo by chinadaily.com.cn]

The drumming has reached fever-pitch now. I have arrived at the party. The party is here. Below, hundreds of students, teachers, and curious Chinese, dance in rings around a central area fenced in by tables fit to burst with the cuisines from more than a dozen countries.

Indeed, the only sense being overstimulated more than the ears is that of the taste buds. Tingling whiffs of spices from along trade routes long celebrated assault the nose in an orgy of smells which immediately whet the appetite.

Not being much of a dancer, I head straight to the tables. Fighting through the crowds is the only method of etiquette required here if you wish for anything delectable to pass betwixt your lips. Luckily, I have stout elbows.

Now I can't espouse every delicious delicacy, suffice to say there is a plentiful pantheon of pastries, curries, dumplings, sweets, all packed with punchy flavors representing the best in good old home cooking. This isn't hoighty-toighty, poncified Michelin fare which will set you back a kidney and your first born child. This is real, raw, unspoiled flavor from the family kitchen. And my god is there flavor. There are no red wine reductions, roof tiles, or jus spread with the backs of spoons. There is food, and there is plate (cardboard).

There is fish amok from Cambodia. Wrapped in banana leaves, it oozes with creamy coconut milk and a zingy sting of galangal. I'm informed by the smiling student that made it that the recipe is her mother's.