TSA’s Nightmarket brings authentic international cuisine to Brandeis campus

October 13, 2017

The Taiwanese Student Association (TSA)’s annual Nightmarket lit up the Fellows Garden outside of the SCC on Saturday, Oct. 7. For an evening, the Garden was transformed into a traditional night market, complete with string lights hanging on trees and pop music playing over loudspeakers. In traditional night markets in Taiwan, vendors set up stalls on sidewalks and streets to sell different foods and drinks, an idea the TSA recreated with its own free food tables.

Students, faculty, staff and even family and friends were invited to join in on the fun of this annual Brandeis tradition. Nine additional clubs, all under the umbrella of the Intercultural Center (ICC), joined TSA to share their respective cultures and cuisines with the greater Brandeis community.

Students gather for annual Nightmarket.

As one of the largest events with free food on campus, it was no surprise that the line began to form before the sun had set that evening. By the time Nightmarket officially began at 6 p.m, the line that started at Fellows Garden had reached the area near Massell and Rosenthal Quads. According to TSA Treasurer Candice Ji ’20, a total of 1,002 people attended the event, breaking the record of 900 people the year before, even though this year’s event seemed less hectic than the previous year. Perhaps it was because attendees did not crowd around the tables at the front of the line, blocking other guests from getting to the tables on the other side of the space close to Gerstenzang Science Library.

The hosts for the evening, TSA, served fried rice, fried noodles, Taiwanese fried chicken, green beans, boba tea, Taiwanese sausage, fish cake stew and minced pork over rice. Other clubs’ contributions to the menu included sweet buns from the Brandeis Asian American Students Association (BAASA) and assorted skewers from the Brandeis Chinese Cultural Connection (BC3). There were also custard buns and egg tarts from Club Cantonese (C2B), Cha Gio (fried spring roll) and Thit Lui (lemongrass beef) from the Vietnamese Students Association (VSA) and Japanese curry rice from the Japanese Students Association.

The Southeast Asia Club (SEAC) served drunken noodles and mango sticky rice, the South Asian Student Association (SASA) served mint pakoras and chutney, the Brandeis Korean Students Association (BKSA) served galbi (grilled ribs) and the Brandeis African Student Association (BASO) served samosas and plantains.

“My favorite part was serving all the different people who stopped by my food station and seeing Fellows Garden become a lively, animated place,” said Rachel Wang ’21, a volunteer for TSA. Wang is from New Jersey, but her parents immigrated from China. “I definitely think cultural events like Nightmarket are important because they bring exposure and validation to minority cultures in a really accessible and approachable way,” added Wang.

Although the event was intended to last until 9p.m, all of the clubs had their tables cleared long before then. The majority of clubs have run out of food before 8 p.m.

The food was no longer hot by the time I reached the majority of the tables, but regardless, it did not disappoint and was worth the wait. TSA’s boba tea, C2B’s egg tarts and VSA’s Thit Lui especially left a lasting impression. For an international student like myself, it felt comforting to have foods from my hometown, which is almost 8,000 miles away from Brandeis. It was also amusing watching my friends try some of the foods I grew up with for the first time. After all, as the saying goes, the best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.

My favorite part of the night, by far, was observing the interactions going on between the students around me. The grassy areas, benches and tables surrounding Fellows Garden and the SCC were filled with groups of friends. First-years, seniors and even staff members alike sat together, conversing and eating off paper plates overflowing with a coalesce of savory and sweet foods. Nightmarket is an occasion that brings community members from different backgrounds together, highlighting the sense of community that drew many students to Brandeis in the first place.

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