On the same evening that many Americans were crowding around the television to see which presidential candidate would carry the swing states, some UT students congregated around the stove to celebrate a type of international cuisine.
The International House hosted a cooking demonstration Tuesday night that featured mirza ghasemi, a traditional Northern Iranian food, as a part of "Persia Week." The dish is vegetarian and mainly composed of roasted eggplant, eggs, tomatoes and garlic. It is eaten with a piece of pita or Persian bread and is usually served as a side dish, an appetizer or a light lunch.
Preluding last night's cooking demonstration was a lecture by Mostafa Ghafoori Varzaneh about his experiences as an Iranian student.
Among the students represented at the demonstration, many had never before participated in anything like it.
"I have had food at the I-House, but (I've) never gone to one of the demonstrations," said Sarah Bright, senior in psychology.
The food preparation lasted less than an hour. Those in attendance were given a copy of the recipe and the opportunity to actively aid in the cooking process by chopping garlic, peeling eggplant, and sampling the finished product — all first time experiences for many. Students huddled around the stove and watched as the ingredients were mixed together and cooked until the dish was finished. The final product was then served to those who lingered to enjoy the food and engage in conversation.
While the international dish may not be likely to find its place on a university dining menu, most in attendance agreed that it was enjoyable to sample the ethnic food and broaden their culinary knowledge. When a few students asked for seconds, facilitators jokingly insisted that seconds were for those who could make the dish themselves. Several said that they thought they were capable of making mirza ghasemi on their own after watching the demonstration.
"I definitely liked the food. And since they handed out the recipe to us, I will probably try and make it," Lajos Magcos, freshman in aeronautics engineering, said. "I actually thought about when I might get a chance to try and make the dish myself."
There will be a night on Persian culture in the Great Room of the I-House this Thursday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in the I-House. The event will include dancing and music, as well as feature a wider array of traditional Persian food.