To acquire wisdom, one must observe

SEAC explores culture through cuisine

With events dedicated to desserts, exotic fruits and karaoke, the Southeast Asia Club (SEAC) sponsored a week of events designed to immerse members of the Brandeis community in the culture and authentic cuisine of Southeast Asia.

Flower Le ’15, co-president of SEAC, expressed the desire to “spread awareness about Southeast Asian culture and to share in delicious food while discovering their cultural significance.”

As a double major in biology and chemistry, Le nevertheless has remained committed to her extracurricular pursuits despite her rigorous academic pursuits. She explained her desire to serve SEAC, stating, “I’m Southeast Asian, and I grew up in a predominately white community, and cultural clubs have always been a way for me to connect with other people.” She noted the accepting attitude that marks SEAC. “SEAC welcomes everyone, regardless of race, which also makes the group great for learning and teaching each other.”

Over the course of the week, SEAC hosted events feautring exoctic fruits such as lychee, star fruit, dragon fruit, mangos, durian, pomegranates and rambutan, among others. Engaging students in a friendly culinary competition, SEAC challenged those in attendance to produce a creative design using Southeast Asian fruits. Participants rose to the occasion, producing a bunny they lovingly deemed Carlos and a mixture of fruits that evoked a space invasion theme.

Noting the creativity of the designs, Le said, “It was fantastic and totally out of the norm, which is so fun to see. The winner was the space invasion because they were able to showcase all of the fruits in a very different way.” SEAC further devoted an entire evening to a delicious range of desserts characteristic of the region, as well.

Embracing the cultural significance of local dishes, SEAC encouraged students to sample exotic dishes including khua mee, satay kabobs, bajigur, banh xeo and pay kyaw from the countries of Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma and Vietnam during an event cleverly titled SEAC Safari.

Le revealed that she, alongside other members of the club, prepared most of the dishes, purchasing ingredients at Asian markets if she was unable to find them locally in Waltham.

“We tried sampling many different dishes this week, ranging from desserts and drinks to appetizers and main entrees,” Le said. “The flavors differed a lot as well because some countries are more influenced by bitter tastes while others enjoy a sweeter flavor.” Although she explains that the various countries in Southeast Asia share similar dishes due to their physical proximity, she emphasizes the unique flavors characteristic of each region.

Concluding a week of delicious cuisine, SEAC hosted karaoke night Thursday evening, offering snacks to those in attendance as well.

Exposing students to the rich cuisine of Southeast Asia, SEAC is open to students of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Le encourages anyone interested to attend. “We are always open to anyone and everyone, and I’m actually happy to see that we’ve had new members this week,” she said. Stressing the importance of keeping an open mind and gaining exposure to various cultures, she said, “It’s usually just a lot of people hanging out, getting to know each other and of course eating some delicious food.”

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