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An eggcellent spread

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Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, green eggs (and ham)…but tea eggs?

“They don’t look good, but they taste really good,” says Mary Nellis, food and booth coordinator for the International Culture and Food Festival.

Tea eggs made quite a splash at last year’s festival and will be one of the ethnic foods represented at this year’s festival at the University Center Sunday, March 13, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission costs $1. (Eggs cost $1 each.)

Chinese and Taiwanese groups both will offer tea eggs, Nellis says. First, the eggs are boiled in water. Then, the shells are cracked. The eggs, with cracked but un-peeled shells, are boiled a second time in tea, soy sauce and herbs. The result, evidently, is an ugly but tasty little hunk of protein.

Seventeen other countries will be represented at the food festival, Nellis says: “I’ve got everything from Estonia to Cambodia.” She’s got Estonian berry cream floats, Serbian barbecue, Cambodian black-rice dessert, Swedish meatballs, Greek baklava and Indonesian chicken satay. Homegrown favorites include buffalo burgers and American Indian fry bread. The food dishes, priced between 50 cents and $3, are served in small portions, designed to sate the adventurous palate without completely overloading the belly.

The University of Montana’s International Student Association (ISA) sponsors the annual event. Last year, roughly 4,000 people attended. ISA President Martin Twer has tasted the eggs—“kind of spicy”—but wants to be sure visitors aren’t permanently stuck in the food booths on the UC’s main floor.

“There’s more to cultural diversity than food,” he says.

To prove it, ISA has scheduled five hours of cultural events on the UC’s upper levels, including Japanese folk dances, “calligraphy fun with Russian Cyrillic” and a chance to try on Korean clothing.

Sounds delightful. Now, back to food: We hear that most booths sell out by 3:30 p.m. or so. If the eggs are gone by the time you show up, you were warned.

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