International students find home through taste buds

Carrie Fossum

International students from all around the world leave behind their family, friends and some of their favorite foods to study at Iowa State.

Tthere are a few places in Ames where international students have found some homeland favorites. Although select international foods can be found around Ames, compared to the fresh foods, “they aren’t tasty at all,” said Usman Aurakzai, senior in electrical engineering from Pakistan.

International student Ryan Taylan Butros, junior in industrial engineering from Turkey, enjoys iskender kebap. To make this dish, chunks of lamb or beef are roasted on a skewer over an open fire, and then shaved and served on pita-style bread.

Although international students may eat American food while here, they find ways to enjoy foods from home through several stores and restaurants around Ames that offer international cuisine.

Aurakzai shops at Pammel Grocery for their selection of Pakistani food.

Pammel Grocery, 113 Colorado Ave., is an international and domestic grocery store that stocks Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. The food on their shelves varies from mango ice cream to roti, a type of flat Indian pan bread.

Another way students can find a particular or new international food is by taking advantage of different clubs on campus that have meals serving native foods. For example, the Thai Student Association has an annual event, “Thai Night,” at which authentic Thai food is served.

“Once you are here, and American food is the only thing you find, you start missing food from back home,” Aurakzai said.

Name that foreign food


What it is: A sweet food that can be eaten fresh. It is often added to desserts.

Native to: Southern China

Nutrition: Good levels of vitamin C and potassium. It is said to reduce tumors and enlarged glands.

Other: The flowers produce good honey.

Ice cream fruit

(also known as white sapote)

What it is: It has a tough outside, but the fruit inside tastes creamy, like ice cream.

Native to: Central Mexican highlands

Nutrition: Good level of vitamin C.

Other: Seeds are eaten for their hypnotic properties.


What it is: The flesh has a sweet flavor.

Native to: The rainforests of India.

Nutrition: Contain good levels of potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Other: The ripe flesh can be fermented to make alcoholic drinks. It is the largest fruit with a growing capacity up to 90 pounds.

Dragon’s eye

(also known as longan)

What it is: Juicy eaten fresh, it is often cooked or dried.

Native to: Southern China

Nutrition: Good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Other: The flesh is used to aid in digestive problems and for insomnia. The seeds can be used as a hair shampoo.


What it is: Although they have a distinctive odor, they have a sweet unique taste.

Native to: Southeastern Asia

Nutrition: Good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Other: Some hotels, airlines and public transportation systems have banned customers from carrying/bringing durian with them due to their pungent odor.


(also known as the tree tomato)

What it is: Can be used as fruit or vegetable, the flesh tastes meaty and bitter, tastes best cooked.

Native to: Central and South America.

Nutrition: Good source of vitamin A, B6, C and E.

Other: The juice stains and is difficult to remove.

Buddha’s Hand

What it is: A lemon-like fruit.

Native to: Northeast India

Nutrition: Good source of vitamin C.

Other: Used for perfuming rooms and clothing; given as a religious offering.

Sources: “Taylor’s Guide to Fruits & Berries,” “A Produce Reference Guide to Fruits and Vegetables Around the World,” “Discovering Fruits & Nuts”