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Food and friendships: How Biryani brought three Chinese girls closer to Pakistani culture

WHAT happens when three Chinese international students try Pakistani food for the first time? Trinity College Foundation Studies students Amelia Wang, Katherine Guo, Helen Liu and Huzaifa Ghani documented their food adventure.

Biryani food home cooked by Pakistani student, Huzi. | Photo: Amelia Wang

Biryani food home cooked by Pakistani student, Huzi. | Photo: Amelia Wang

Melbourne is famous for its sense of multiculturalism, evidenced by the myriad of people living, studying and working within the city. With that many people comes the provision of food catering to each community, giving everyone a chance to try the different cuisines that are offered in Melbourne.

And that’s exactly what three Chinese international students from Trinity College Foundation Studies did when they decided to try out Pakistani food for the first time. In deciding to learn more about Pakistani food, international student Huzaifa, or Huzi, invited the girls over to his home to taste the traditional Pakistani food from his hometown.

Though the girls were aware of Pakistani culture through the internet and television shows in China, much of its food and people were a mystery to them. All the girls agreed that when it came to Pakistani food, they didn’t quite know what to expect. They knew that the food was usually warm in colour and that curry might be involved in meals. They also expected the flavour of Pakistani food to be quite thick but also not too spicy.

After trying Huzi’s homecooked Pakistani food, the students came away from the experience with a different attitude.

Katherine admits that as a foodie, she is willing to try all sorts of delicious food from different countries but when it came to Pakistani food, she had a mix of feelings towards it.

“When I first got my eyes on Biryani, I was deeply impressed with the colour of the dish. Also, it’s smell attracted me to taste it voraciously. However, I found that it was not as tasty as I considered. It was quite spicy for me and I could not eat this kind of sauce because of its strange taste,” she said.

However, she also said that she grew to enjoy it over time.

“But then I was addicted to Biryani due to the fact that it tasted better and better,” she added.

Katherine, Huzi, Amelia and Helen after trying Biryani for the first time. Food indeed does bring friends together! | Photo: Katherine Guo

Katherine, Huzi, Amelia and Helen after trying Biryani for the first time. Food indeed does bring friends together! | Photo: Katherine Guo

Helen meanwhile said she already had an acquired taste for spices.

“It’s actually pretty nice to have a taste of something spicy,” Helen said.

She also added that “compared with the kind of rice that we usually have in China, the rice that they use is super sized”.

Amelia also echoed some of Helen’s sentiments about being used to spicy food.

“For most people from northern China, Pakistan food is not too spicy because we are used to having strong taste dishes,” Amelia said.

“Compared with Chinese cuisine, Pakistani food often uses some special, domestic spices. I guess the rice has been stewed with chicken soup, so that there was such a strong flavour in Biryani”, she added.

Amelia also commented that Pakistani food was “another kind of Asian style” in cuisine, adding that “it was a fantastic experience” for her.

All in all, the girls’ experience of trying Pakistani food cooked by their friend Huzi was an enjoyable one. And really that’s one of the best things about food; that it is able to bring people together and make lasting friendships.

Do you have any experience with food and friends? Would you like to taste Pakistani cuisine? Perhaps some Biryani? Share with us in the comments section below.

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This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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