In my family, no one was big on watching soccer on TV. So, when Stillings Dining Hall created a dinner in honor of the FIFA Soccer Championships, I knew it would be a brand new experience. For three days, they lead up to the event by slowly adding decorations to the dining hall. The first thing up was the flags of all the countries, lining where ceiling overhangs. The next day, there were little soccer balls on strings, attached to the ceiling all over the place. Near the door, to hype-up the event, a big sign explained there would be a FIFA Soccer Championship feast. The day of, the staff was dressed in their soccer-related gear, the decorations were strung-up all over, and the smell of good South American food wafted out of Stillings and into the streets.
For me, this was an event very foreign to me; no one in my family celebrated this event and I really didn’t know anyone who did. However, it was clear that there was a big calling for the celebration. My assumption of the hype was accurate; my friends and I showed up for dinner that night, blown away by the good cheer of the celebration. It was the culmination of the few days prior and everything tied together perfectly, not to mention the food! Typically at dining events, the fare usually fits the theme but only at a few stations. In other words, during these other events, the vegan food station and maybe the fried food station might offer one correlating food option or none at all. Well, not at this event! Every station went above and beyond to provide a South American styled dish that tasted delicious. I tried the baleadas at the fried food station; it was a type of Honduras quesadilla with egg, refried beans, and some very tasty salsa.
Though I don’t follow FIFA soccer, it was astonishing and heart-warming to be a part of the event and watch as even families, all dressed in matching Brazil jerseys, ate dinner together. Every student I saw there had plates piled high with food from all over South America, a diverse variety that tasted fantastic. I personally had thought this would be a dining event that I would enjoy the least yet it was my favorite to attend. The atmosphere of everyone gathering to celebrate FIFA Soccer Championships was incredible. For me, it was the equivalent of having a feast on the day of the super bowl. The food was what impressed me the most, every station fit the theme and encouraged students to take a leap and try food they’ve probably never had before. I even tried baleadas for the first time and ended up going back for seconds! If you’re looking for a dining event to attend, the FIFA Soccer Championships event at Stillings is the one to be at, I’ve never witnessed a better combination of great food and a great atmosphere.