UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES AND RECORDS MANAGEMENT SERVICES
The University as International Host: Stories of Migration
Hospitality a Word and a Way
Hospitality A Word and a Way; an international student pamphlet (1967). Katherine Riddell Fonds, University of Toronto Archives and Information Management Services
Hospitality A Word and a Way, an international student pamphlet (1967). Katherine Riddell Fonds, University of Toronto Archives and Information Management Services.
This bright-orange pamphlet could have landed in my hands during the 1960s, given out by a University of Toronto association known as the Friendly Relations with Overseas Students. Upon opening the pages, I received well-meaning hospitality advice on hosting and feeding an international student, albeit using outdated terms considered culturally offensive today, including a reference to the guest as “a young India or Africa”. Even so, the pamphlet’s quick and easy meal suggestions provide a unique glimpse into past food-ways. These recipes and their multiple canned ingredients, reveal the complicated negotiations that occur during moments of cultural encounter, specifically, during a period of increased diversity in North America. On one hand, its recipes, including Fast Desserts and 10 Minute Chicken Dinner, demonstrates the fast paced lifestyles of Canadian families in the 1960s who privileged convenience foods that were “ready in a jiffy” or “quick’n easy”, spurring on a golden age of food processing.
On the other hand, the recipes also reveal the influence that post war immigrant populations, had on food products and meals. For example, companies and marketers began to recognize the population’s diversity which inspired foreign products, including convenient, frozen versions of meals such as Chop Suey and as mentioned in the pamphlet, the instant rice – “well-loved by Indian friends”. Companies also began importing and canning vegetables foreign to North America, such as lima beans, orcas and the chickpeas featured in this pamphlet. These products are complex forms of acculturation, revealing that consumption is integrated into both culture and lifestyle.
Today, a wide variety of culturally diverse ingredients and meals are available in North America, which would suggest that universities are capable of providing food that suits both the fast-paced lifestyles of international students and their taste preferences. However, international students, as cited by a recent study on their experiences in Canada, still struggle to find tastes of home. For example, although ethnic restaurants are accessible, students consider them to be inauthentic by privileging western tastes and failing to acknowledge religious dietary restrictions.
In another study of Guelph and Windsor universities of Ontario, international students complained that ethnic superstores lack variety and are overpriced or understocked. Students, rather than feeling comfortable in these university foodscapes, spoke of feeling trapped by the meal plans which are expensive and failed to live up to their expectations of food from home. Contrary to what schools provided, students hoped for food on campus that was home-made, cheap, quick and traditional.
Recently, some universities in Canada have reacted to these studies by acknowledging their role as the host family and their responsibility in creating a home-like environment for international students. Schools such as the University of Toronto have created more flexible meal plans that offer diverse foods and meals that respect dietary restrictions including halal and kosher options. Thus, recent steps taken by universities to offer convenient and culturally diverse meal options, proves that Canadian Universities still believe that hospitality is possible as not only a word but also a way.
Cassy Kist graduated with a BA from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Classical studies. As a result of these two passions she has worked on archaeological digs, including one in Greece where she experienced new cultural encounters. The desire to preserve the stories revealed through archaeology and share narratives of cultural encounters, ultimately led her to pursue a Master’s of Museum Studies at Toronto’s ischool.
Today, a wide variety of culturally diverse ingredients and meals are available in North America which would suggest that universities are capable of providing food that suits both the fast-paced lifestyles of international students and their taste preferences.