Food Prep

Foreign Cambridge students complain cafeteria's ethnic food inaccurately represents their culture

Founded in 1209, Cambridge University is one of the world's oldest learning institutions.

Founded in 1209, Cambridge University is one of the world's oldest learning institutions.  (iStock)

Students from diverse ethnic backgrounds at the University of Cambridge have complained to the kitchen staff that some of the food served at the prestigious school “misrepresents" their foreign culture.

Two dishes feeling the most heat outside the kitchen were a "Jamaican stew" and a "Tunisian rice," which students said were not typical of the dishes they ate at home, according to the Telegraph.

More than 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students attend Cambridge, with almost 8,000 international students representing over 120 different countries in that population. 

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However, some students did not agree with the complaints and defended the university’s cuisine.

"You've got to be pretty privileged to have the time to sit and moan about the naming of the food you eat at one of the best universities in the world,” said one student.

A minority student reportedly added, “"While the Indian food in trough isn't straight from my Dadiki's karahi in a Mumbai highrise, I'm thankful to the Pembroke staff for at least trying.

"I urge people to look around and realise there's a lot more to life than complaining about fruity chicken. Grow up."

The comments first started on the school’s Facebook page where one student wrote, “"Dear Pembroke catering staff, stop mixing mango and beef and calling it 'Jamaican stew'. I'm actually half Jamaican pls show me where in the Caribbean they mix fruit and meat.

The student continued, "I'm used to as a minority student being constantly invalidated when flagging up specific issues but if people feel their cultures are misrepresented they have the right to address this.

"Microaggressions are a reality of the everyday existence of many people with colour [sic]."

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The complaints were again brought to light at a joint meeting with the university’s food committee and student representatives.

Pembroke College bursar Andrew Cates says the university will consider reevaluting its menu going forward. 

“As a college which prides itself on the high standard of its cuisine and wants all our students of diverse background to feel a valued part of our community, we encourage our catering staff to take the views of any of our students seriously,” said Cates after the meeting.