Indiana Daily Student

Cooking demonstration promotes diversity at Asian Culture Center

With cat pictures on her apron and friends in the crowd, the informal atmosphere of Sarah Zeng’s cooking demonstration created an open and welcoming environment for IU students wanting to learn more about Korean cuisine.

Zeng led a demo on how to prepare Gaji Namul Friday evening at the Asian Culture Center in an event co-hosted by the Asian Culture Center and Diversity in Action, a Hutton Honors College student organization.

Gaji Namul, or steamed eggplant, is a Korean side dish. Zeng’s recipe for her version is included in a Diversity in Action cookbook that has recipes submitted from many different cultures by IU students.

Oddly enough, using a recipe is unusual for Zeng.

“I’ll usually just eyeball it,” she said.

Cleo Hernandez, a member of Diversity in Action, said Zeng was chosen because of her family-inspired recipe entry and the short blurb she gave as explanation for the dish.

Zeng said she never set out to make it into a cookbook.

“I just really craved eggplant last semester, so I made a lot of eggplant,” she said.“The recipe was just some of my knowledge that I wanted to impart on others.”

Freshman Maxwell Sandberg said he enjoyed the informality of the event because it gave him the opportunity to ask Zeng questions about the recipe while she was cooking and inquire about any other ways the eggplant could be prepared.

While cooking, Zeng demonstrated to the audience how to know if the eggplant was done.

“Poke it with a chopstick or fork and it should be soft,” she said.

As she finished mixing the ingredients together one last time, she chuckled and said, “It’s not beautifully prepared because you mix it all together, but it tastes good and that’s all that really matters.”

Samples prepared before the event were handed out to each individual in the audience and many commented on the high quality of the Gaji Namul.

Diversity in Action holds these cooking demonstrations to show the diversity of student body, Hernandez said. It also gives students a chance to do something fun and different on a Friday evening and to try a food they have never tried before.

“We try to simultaneously emphasize cultural differences and cultural cohesion, recognizing that we are all sort of the same but that we have important differences that make us unique that we need to recognize,” Hernandez said.

Kayleigh Burgess, a graduate assistant at the Asian Cultural Center, said the center holds these events because they bring people together and offer a window into different cultures.

“It lends cultural richness and experiences for students who may not have had them before,” Burgess said.

The Asian Culture Center and Diversity in Action are co-hosting another cooking demonstration March 27, where everyone will learn how to make Turkish Pide from a recipe submitted by Asna Asrar.

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