By Anna Feldman
As I hung up my jacket outside of a crowded Bemis Great Hall last Saturday, two thoughts simultaneously entered my mind: “This whole event is incredibly cute,” and “it smells amazing.” Winter Market 2019 was in full swing.
Cloth-draped tables lined the walls, each divided into separate stations demarcated by flags. To a soundtrack of wintry music, a Kahoot trivia contest, and lively chatter, people wandered from flag to flag to fill their compostable plates with an array of dishes.
This year’s Winter Market was the fourth in CC history, according to one of its organizers, French language house Cultural Program Coordinator Mathilde Begu. It’s an annual opportunity for international students at Colorado College to prepare foods from their varying cultural backgrounds and to share them with the entire community. The event is hotly anticipated by students on both sides of this exchange.
“I think that Winter Market is a wonderful opportunity for international students and staff to share a little bit of their culture, their uniqueness, with the CC community,” Begu said. “Students usually ask questions about the origin of the dish, or the winter tradition … I am always in favor of creating events that put a spotlight on the international community here at CC. Those students are incredible, most of them have fascinating journeys, and they need to be heard.”
By the time I arrived, supplies were running low, but enthusiasm remained high. Students gathered around tables in the center of the space, comparing their bounties as they ate: main courses, snacks, desserts.
Within the event’s overarching seasonal theme, each dish played a slightly different role in the culture of those who prepared it. Reliable staples, ubiquitous favorites, and dishes reserved for important events were all represented. Some groups, like the students who ran the Hawaii station, made more than one.
“We made spam musubi and chicken long rice,” said Zea Levine ’23, as Sarah Yamamoto ’23 gently angled a pot to show me its brothy, aromatic contents, now depleted by many marketgoers. “Do you want to explain chicken long rice?” Levine asked Yamamoto.
Yamamoto obliged. “It’s a warm dish we eat a lot, so it’s kind of like local comfort food.”
“And spam musubi, it’s, like, you get it at every gas station, it’s what you eat,” continued Levine, referring to the small pillows of rice supporting spam and little ribbons of seaweed. “You go to a swim meet, you eat that; you go to a soccer game, you eat that; you get gas, you eat that.”
At the Japan station, CPC Machi Niiya presented a slow-cooked, hearty curry full of tender potatoes and carrots.
“Our winter food is nabe, which needs to be cooked at the time — it’s what I think of when I think of Japanese winter food, and that’s impossible for this occasion,” she said. “Curry we eat all year, but it’s easy to serve to many people.”
Danny Zamudio ’21 told me about the expertly spiced chicken tinga he was serving with corn tortillas and shredded lettuce at the Mexico station. “It’s definitely something I look forward to when I come home,” he said. “I would say it’s more for special occasions, because it takes a long time to prepare.”
Winter Market was a resounding success this year — each of the community members to whom I talked indicated enthusiasm for the process of preparing a food that holds a special place in their heart. I asked Begu about her goals for the future of the Market, as I had been surprised to discover how quickly it has established itself as a beloved part of the CC experience.
“I would like to expand Winter Market in the future years,” Begu said. “I think that the more countries we can represent, the better! I hope that more students, staff, and faculty will know about it on campus and will want to participate.”