Traditional Food, Games Light Up Faces At Night Market

Under tent canopies and hanging strings of light, vats of sweet, spicy, and soul-feeding cultural dishes lined O’Neill Quad after nightfall on Thursday. But for students who hoped to reach the inviting aromas, there was a catch, according to Raquel Guevarra, co-president of the Philippine Society of Boston College (PSBC).

“In order to get food, you’d have to play a game and win a ticket,” Guevarra, MCAS ’22, said. 

That was the premise of “Night Market,” an after-dark event hosted by the Southeast Asian Student Association, Asian Caucus, and the Organization of Latin American Affairs at Boston College. 

Ten clubs showcased their respective cultures through food, traditions, and games in the spirit of night markets, which bring people together in cities across the globe. 

At the Cuban-American Student Association (CASA) table, a few students were huddled  around a game of dominoes, which is popular in Cuba, Paul Alderete, CASA vice president and MCAS ’22, said. 

“[There are] a lot of people here, I mean, it’s awesome,” Alderete said. “We’ve got people walking by, stopping, grabbing food quickly.”Maybe too quickly, he said, as CASA’s aluminum foil pan full of plantains had already run out within the first hour of the event.

Deloshene Sittambalam, co-president of the South Asian Student Association and MCAS ’22, said that the plantains were “really good.” She, too, enjoyed the atmosphere at Night Market.

“It’s a lot of great energy,” Sittambalam said. “I think people are really excited to be back in person and just to have a lot of face time and in-person time with friends and other clubs.”

Sittambalam said that after the event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is happy to be able to host the event in person this year.

“We’ve had it for the past few years,” she said. “I had it my freshman and sophomore year as well. … It’s good to see this back and running again.”

The main goal of the market is to bring people together through food, Sittambalam said. 

“Food really brings people together, especially cultural food,” she said. “Especially international students coming to the states and getting to have a taste of cultural food is awesome for them.”

In the Philippines, food markets serve as places where people go to have fun after a hard day or to be with others, Guevarra said. 

“You can see it pretty much like on every island and it’s usually just something that people go to after work or just have fun with their families and it’s pretty common out there,” she said. 

At the PSBC tent, passersby had to be on full alert, unless they wanted to leave with a shoe print on their face.

“So we served longganisa which is a Filipino sausage with rice and eggs,” Guevarra said. “And then our game tonight was basically, knock down the cans with a sandal.”

At the Chinese Students Association (CSA) table, students raced against each other moving marbles from one bowl to another with chopsticks. After that, they could grab a bite of tanghulu, according to Maggie Rong, CSA co-president and MCAS ’22.

“[Tanghulu’s] like taking multiple types of fruit and putting melted sugar on top of it and then it’ll harden when you take it out,” Rong said. “It’s a sugar shell on the outside and the fruit inside.”

After a year of virtual events, interacting with other culture clubs at events like Night Market brings the CSA closer to other members of the BC community, Rong said.

“I think one focus that CSA has this year is engaging with more [people of color] and also engaging more with the BC community as a whole,” she said.

And at a loud outdoor event like Night Market, all BC students are exposed to what culture clubs have to offer, Rong said. That might not be the case at a usual club meeting held behind closed doors, she said.

“Hopefully [students passing by] do engage with us, like try some of our food, play our games,” Rong said. “But even if they don’t, I hope that they see that our community is really strong, our community is really welcoming, and they don’t feel afraid.”

Images by Victor Stefanescu / Heights Editor

October 24, 2021