The Taste of Southeast Asia

Where are you from?

That should be the simplest question to answer.  Not in our MBA class. The diversity is incredible. We are a smorgasbord of everything.  A mini United Nations.  There is a flow of multiple languages being spoken while we sit and wait for class to begin.  On paper, we encompass almost 30 countries.  However, with the amount of international experience my class has, I am still counting the number of countries we truly represent. To give you a sample: There’s Jo: Japanese, professional career in South Africa; Pia: half of her life in Germany, other half in South Africa; Anthony: French, but basically a Hong Kong local; Aman: Indian, sailed the seas and has a story from everywhere; Jing: mainland Chinese, speaks fluent Arabic with time spent in the Middle East; Ashley: from the Heart of America, lived in Sri Lanka. Myself, as an American, I was not able to identify the other Americans in the beginning.  My classmates-like Jiaying, William, Eric, Clara, Maggie, and Kyle-studied or worked in The States and understand my culture so well, I assumed they were Americans.  A passport is nothing but an accumulation of visas and stamps to recall a story.


Tonight’s story is about Southeast Asia.  It was an opportunity for the Southeast Asian students to introduce the class to the cuisines of their Motherland.  The Philippines with Jollibee fried chicken and adobo; Singapore with sambal long beans and milo dinosaur; Malaysia with satay; Indonesia with rendang, teri kacang, and kue lapis; Thailand with anchan manao and pad thai.  The food and drinks were either homemade or handcrafted by club members, or catered from local restaurants (Hong Kong is so diverse and a culinary capital, incredible food is ubiquitous).  As expected, there was more than enough food for all… and then some.

The highlight of the night was the Food Fear Factor challenge.  It was a time for us to have our unsuspecting classmates eat some of the more, um, ‘exotic’ foods of Southeast Asia.  To test their limits  and open mindedness, first Freddie, Adam, Yoshi, Fred and Anuraag were given: salted egg yolk fish skins, deep-fried worms and crickets, petai beans, and balut.  The first three dishes were, surprisingly, enjoyed by all (especially Freddie and Anuraag).  Oh but the balut… the balut was a different story.  Imagine: a hardboiled egg, but when you crack it open you see an undeveloped bird fetus-with feathers, beak, and all.  Some were not able to surpass the mental hurdle to try it.  However, everyone that attempted to eat it, finished it and liked it. 

All-in-all it was a great night.  I am not sure what’s better-seeing how proud my Southeast Asian classmates are to show off their culture, or the rest of the class who were so curious and amazed.  In the MBA, yes, we are busy.  We also always take time to support each other.  It is most evident with nights like this.  The best part: this will not be the last event.  The Southeast Asia Club will do it again.