A “close encounter” of flavors and cultures at the University of Debrecen

A variety of more than a hundred food specialties prepared by as many as 30 teams from 29 different countries/nations were offered to lovers of international flavors at the gastronomic festival of the University of Debrecen called International Food Day, which turned out this year to be even bigger, more exciting and tastier than ever before.

Imagine a single plate laid with Iraqi Dolma, a mouth-watering blend of rice stuffed in grape leaves with minced meat, herbs and spices, the Israeli ever-popular street food sandwich Sabich, a harmonious blend of flavors and textures with fried eggplant slices, boiled egg, creamy hummus, tahini sauce, refreshing Israeli salad and Musakhan rolls, a traditional Palestinian dish, a succulent roast chicken with sumac and spices, wrapped in a thin flatbread and grilled crispy with caramelized onions, pine nuts and creamy tahini sauce, plus Madlouka, a traditional Syrian dessert made of layers of grated fillo dough, sweetened with sugar syrup and flavored with rose water or orange blossom water and garnished with chopped walnuts, pistachios or almonds. Add dance and music. This year, just like before, International Food Day showed that, through the field of gastronomy, international conflicts aside, UD’s international students do form a well-knit and united community.

International Food Day, the largest and most popular event held by International Student Union (ISU), the organization of international students at the University of Debrecen, hosted more than 5000 visitors at its new location, situated at the northern event area of Debrecen’s Nagyerdei Stadion.
Zoltán Szilvássy, Rector of the University of Debrecen, said in his opening speech that the University of Debrecen, as the institution of higher education with the largest number of international students in Hungary, continued to offer high-quality education and marketable degrees and diplomas to the approximately 7,300 foreign students from more than 120 countries who study at UD, while providing them with a safe and livable environment.
“In a world where violence and arrogance towards each other is abundant, we should be proud of the University of Debrecen, where the representatives of more than 120 nations live and work together in harmonious cooperation, respecting each other's cultures and customs. The tradition of our International Food Day, which has been with us for almost twenty years, is proof that peaceful coexistence is indeed possible through proper care even in such an international environment,” said Rector Szilvássy. He also noted that cooking and feasting together is one of the best ways to get to know each other's culture and gastronomy.
Attila Jenei, co-founder of the event and Director of UD’s Center for International Education, recalled that the very first Food Day had been held way back in 2005, right in front of the university building housing the program in medicine. Since then, it has grown tremendously and has become an international festival that attracts large crowds to a site where shared meals break down invisible barriers. He added that the current aim is to attract even more countries to the event in the future, and to offer Hungarian students a deeper understanding of foreign cultures, thus strengthening peaceful coexistence.
Zoltán Bács, the Chancellor of our university, told hirek.unideb.hu the following: “It is a great joy for us that, while in so many places in the world, the atmosphere of politics and international conflicts has invaded the universities, in Debrecen, Hungary, the various nations, including students who have received worrisome news from their home countries, are celebrating together in peace, respecting each other, with the help of gastronomy and dietary culture. For example, the university's oDEon theatre and the international student troupe schedule to present the musical called Aladdin in a few days' time.”
In his opening address of the event, László Mátyus, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Debrecen, stressed the importance of friendships in the diverse international community of the University of Debrecen.

“We are delighted that Food Day is becoming increasingly popular not only with UD students but also with the other inhabitants of Debrecen. From the sales figures of entry tickets and tasting tickets, as well as from the general preliminary feedback, we could clearly see that we were in for an extraordinary day. While keeping up the spirit of the event so far, this year's Food Day will also serve yet another charitable purpose,” said Dávid Melis, Vice President of the Student Self-Government of the University of Debrecen, responsible for foreign students.

UD’s International Student Union, the organizer of the event, will again offer a donation in support of the foundation for children with leukemia Leukémiás Gyermekekért Alapítvány.

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