International Food Festival features cuisine from 22 countries at MCI in Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD — More than 20 countries and their cuisines were represented at Maine Central Institute’s annual International Food Festival in Pittsfield on Sunday.

Since 2007, students and teachers have been planning, shopping and cooking for one of the schools’ most beloved traditions, according to one of its organizers, Artur Fass, who works for the school’s ESL department. school.

“It’s one of the oldest and perhaps one of the most cherished traditions on this campus,” Fass said. “MCI is truly a global and diverse community, and this festival is here to celebrate our cultures. There is no better way to share a culture than through food.

Fass, originally from Estonia, represented Ukraine at the festival and prepared borscht, a dark red soup made from beets, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and beef.

“I have family in Ukraine. My uncle is fighting in the war and my cousins ​​are refugees,” Fass said. “Borscht is a staple food in Ukraine. Every household in Ukraine has it on their table, and that’s something I’d like to share today.

Madison Knight, 17, a student at Maine Central Institute in Liberia, right, holds hot rice bread as Sandra Janiec from Poland grabs bowls while serving samples on Sunday at the annual Maine Central International Food Festival Institute of Pittsfield. Janiec says she helped Knight, having served all of his Polish food samples at a nearby table. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Watch

This year’s food festival featured 22 student teams representing countries around the world, including Brazil, France, Myanmar, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia.

Kristyna Markova and Charlotte Lossticka, seniors at MCI, represented the Czech Republic at the festival and prepared potato pancakes.

“Our kitchen has been forgotten,” Lossticka said. “Now people are trying to revive it.”

Maine Central Institute students Kristyna Markova, 18, left, and Charlotte Lostitcka, 19, work together on Sunday cooking potato pancakes, a traditional Czech dish, during the annual International Festival of food at the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. The couple from the Czech Republic said they made the pancakes in a sample size, while they are normally much larger and served with meat as a meal. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Watch

Fass said students are responsible for meal planning each year, including buying supplies and cooking during the festival, though faculty members help with the effort.

“There is autonomy and the students take it very seriously. They are proud of their cultures,” Fass said. “Every year when I go out and ask them if they want to do this, they’re excited, there’s no doubt, even from these young people who have never been here. They take it as seriously as the returning children.

Emily Andrews of Lewiston attended the festival for the first time on Sunday with her husband and their 3-month-old daughter, Piper. By noon, the family had made their rounds at Parks Gymnasium on the MCI campus.

Students from Vietnam’s Maine Central Institute prepare and serve spring rolls on Sunday during the annual International Food Festival at MCI in Pittsfield. From left to right: Claire Nguyen, 18, Mi Nguyen, 18, and Peter Truong, 18. The three, along with 17-year-old Alex Nguyen, worked together and baked 100 spring rolls in pork, shrimp and vegetable varieties during the event. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Watch

“We have tried everything. The empanadas were delicious,” Andrews said. “It’s hard to find international food in Maine. We will be back next year.”

An empanada is a baked or fried turnover or filled pastry, common in Spanish, Southern European, Latin American, and Filipino cultures.

Maine Central Institute is an independent boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12. The school serves as the city academy for Pittsfield, Burnham, and Detroit, and for many students from around the world.

“We have students from Almost Isle to Cumberland Foreside, all over Maine, in the United States and around the world,” said Wayne Lobley, Director of Advancement at MCI.

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