International students in Corner Brook adjust to N.L. life with food from home
A new aisle of Asian food at Colemans helps international students embrace life in Corner Brook
Two international students at Memorial's Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook are making the best of their holiday away from home by cooking up some of their favourite traditional dishes.
About two months ago, Kana Niimi and Hejun Meng discovered a grocery aisle of Asian food products at the local Colemans grocery store — brought in, say Colemans staff, because of a large population of international students at the campus — and the food has helped them feel more at home in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Nimii and Meng listed some of their favourite products they've found since moving here: "Tofu, of course, bean sprouts, some Korean hot spicy paste…" said Nimii, with Meng adding, "…instant noodles and some garlic sprouts and some Asian vegetables."
Meng said she used to shop online for many traditional spices and sauces, such as a spicy Korean paste called gochujang.
"I ordered it online because I couldn't find it anywhere in Corner Brook and then after I got it, I noticed while shopping here, they have one," Meng said.
She mixes it with sugar, soy sauce and vinegar and uses it for a dip for her beef barbecue dish.
The two students plan to cook a lot of dishes over the holidays in their dorm kitchen.
"It will be my entertainment for me and we can still do potluck because there is a lot of international students on campus," Meng said.
Niimi is from Japan while Meng is from China. Although their grocery shopping lists look similar they have different styles of cooking.
One dish the students can agree on is sweet and spicy pork dumplings, but their approaches to it differ; Niimi folds the wrappers a little differently from Meng — both women say they learned their folding techniques from their mothers — and one steams her dumplings while the other fries hers in oil.
As they cook, the room quickly fills with other international students who live together on the top floor of the residence.
"We have noodles, and I will make Chinese food and she will make Japanese food and there's Korean food and we eat it all together," said Meng.
They never thought there would be the sweet and spicy smells of things like dumplings when they arrived in Corner Brook several months ago; both students expected to eat a lot more traditional Newfoundland cuisine, but they say the familiar products they can buy just down the road from campus make it much easier to be away from home.
"I used to live in the States, and we would have to go one hour for groceries to get Japanese food but my mom is really surprised because I can get everything here," said Niimi.