HOUGHTON – Khana Khazana is finding a home in the great outdoors.
Michigan Technological University’s weekly international meal has been setting up in a food truck outside the library for the summer, which Michigan Tech executive chef Eric Karvonen said will continue during the school year as long as weather permits.
“We just see it as a neat venue when the weather gets nicer,” he said. “We have a beautiful campus here, and it makes it easier for the faculty, staff and the students that are here to enjoy a nice meal outside as opposed to going in the Memorial Union … last week, the whole campus area was filled with activity, and people were enjoying themselves in the sunshine.”
Karvonen said the food truck is evidence of the phenomenal growth in the program. It began in the spring of 2010 after two Indian and Bangladeshi students proposed the idea to Dining Services.
“We thought, we’ll give it a shot, and in a month, it’ll fade away,” Karvonen said. “It’s grown every time we’ve done it. That’s a credit to the international students at Michigan Tech.”
Aside from sanitation and food purchasing, Dining Services gives the students free rein, Karvonen said. The organization is fully student run, and includes students from several nationalities. Group leader Roba Bdeir, a Syrian student, organizes ingredients and recipes.
The group meets weekly to determine which group member will make food. Past countries this summer have included Syrian, Indonesian, Indian and Iranian. Friday, Lu Yang, a graduate student in geological engineering, had cooked up a Chinese meal of fried noodles with sausage and a banana shake.
They prepare about 100 meals during the summer, a number that could triple when school resumes, Karvonen said. Bdeir’s meal last week – hummus, falafel, and ljja, a mix of zucchini, egg and parsley – sold out after two hours.
“It’s a good problem to have, running out of food, instead of having a lot left over,” Karvonen said.
Carine Tokam, a senior in from Cameroon, has been involved in Khana Khazana for the past two years. Her meals have been a mix of African cuisine and French, such as her last lunch, quiche and plantains with chicken and vegetables.
“I like cooking,” she said. “It’s really fun to interact with other countries, and I like to promote African food.”
Cam McNamara, a third-year graduate student in materials science and engineering, comes “as often as I have cash.”
“I think it’s great to have something to eat on campus other than the MUB food, and not have to walk to Pearl Street,” he said. “It’s nice to have a different variety.”
This was his third time coming to the food truck this summer. His favorite so far was an Indonesian meal a month ago.
“They had an avocado-watermelon-coconut punch, and you wouldn’t think those things in combination would’ve been that good,” he said.