canteen food
Source: Shutterstock.

One of the (many) great things about studying abroad is getting to try a huge range of new things… and when we say things, we all know we mean food!

But much as we love new things, when it comes to satisfying the taste buds, it’s really Mum’s cooking that hits the spot. Many international students find they crave the home comforts of food like nothing else (except maybe their mum and their dog) while they’re away from home.

That is why the catering staff at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln cook home favorites for international students from all over the world.

Anything goes; with popular choices of halal chicken shawarma, Brazilian black bean stew and Swedish cake, the chefs cater for all cultural backgrounds.

In July of each year, Selleck Dining Manager Gina Guernsey and her team begin planning recipes specifically tailored to the international student intake that year.

“The university will send us the numbers of kids coming from certain countries and we choose our recipes accordingly,” Guernsey explained to The Daily Nebraskan.

When the students arrive in the fall, the majority of recipes are placed on a trial period to see how they go down with the students, Selleck Production Manager Brian Sabatka said.

“We have a thumbs up, thumbs down card to test the students’ reaction to the product,” explained Sabatka.

And there is even the opportunity for international students to start feeding in their own ideas or request the meals they are so desperately craving. Sabatka claimed many of these ideas are met with great reception.

“Brazilian black bean stew has been a success in the past,” he said. “An Indian student brought in a recipe for Subju and it is a favorite among [Indian students] now.”

Although, Selleck Dining Assistant Manager Barbara McCain said it is sadly not always possible to cater for everyone for many reasons. Most notably, it can be tough to find ingredients, the means of cooking it on “a large-scale production” are not practical and the dishes aren’t always popular with the majority.

It can be hard to cater to one person’s needs while serving hundreds of other students, McCain said.

When you REALLY missed the taste of home. Source: GIPHY.

“They’ll bring in things that work on the stovetop at home that don’t always work here,” Guernsey explained.

And with a sparsity of foreign ingredients in the local area, it can be tough.

“I really try to search for things at the local markets on campus, but they don’t always have what we’re looking for,” Sabatka said.

He claimed it is interesting to prepare, cook and taste the wide range of dishes and he is always fascinated when a meal he is less than keen on is lapped up with glee by students of the dish’s country of origin.

“It’s weird because sometimes we don’t like the things they do,” Sabatka said. “I once made a gelatin dish that I personally didn’t care for. The Chinese students loved it though.”

“I love this job because I am always learning new things. It’s the best feeling when they tell you it tastes just like home.”

Shelleck Halls are on-campus living quarters in which students from all over the world come to the United States to live in. Students living all over Lincoln come to dine in Shelleck’s canteen.

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