chapter  8
20 Pages

Multiculturalism, Indian philosophy, and conflicts over cuisine


The International Food Fair is always a popular event at Montana State University Billings (MSUB), where I work. The dining hall is crowded with booths smelling of spices from Saudi Arabia and China, tended by international students eager to share their favorite foods with their newfound friends. For the cooks and those doling out food, there is perhaps “an imagined community implied in the act of eating food ‘from home’ while in exile, in the embodied knowledge that others are eating the same food” (Sutton 2001: 84). For locals, it is a time when meat-and-potato-eating ranch-raised students sample spicy rice dishes, tidy egg rolls, and other cultural, culinary delicacies prepared diligently by fellow students. The International Food Fair is a multicultural moment at our little university – one of precious few such moments in Billings, Montana – a time of promoting and sharing multiple cultural traditions.