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Help with Food Questionnaire for Foreign Student

soypower Sep 2, 2012 11:17 AM

My mother is renting out a room to a student from Korea. This isn't supposed to be like an exchange student situation where the student will be immersed in American culture. She will be responsible for some transportation and all meals, but the student will otherwise be on his own. The thing is, my mother is really looking forward to cooking for someone but she doesn't actually know anything about the kid's likes and dislikes.

She's asked me to put together a little questionnaire. I'm not sure where to start. Should I list a bunch of different dishes (spaghetti, kimchi, apple pie) and ask him to check off the ones he likes? Or just list a bunch of ingredients (chicken, cabbage, bananas)? I just don't want to turn it into a menu that he orders off of every week. There will obviously be regular verbal communication, but having a list of things will really help her when she's grocery shopping and meal planning.

Eager to hear any input you may have! Thanks!

  1. h
    hungryjoanne Sep 2, 2012 11:25 AM

    Perhaps some general questions would be helpful - does he like meat? Is there a preference for beef, chicken, pork? What are his favorite fruits? Vegetables? Are there American dishes he knows of that he enjoys? That he's heard of that he'd like to try?
    Maybe your mother could continue to cook as she usually does for several meals per week and get feedback from him about his preferences.
    Sounds like an opportunity for some good learning on both sides - I wish your mother well with it!

    1. Jetgirly Sep 2, 2012 12:40 PM

      I worked with Korean exchange students who were staying in homestays one summer, and I was very surprised by much they complained about being served "American" food. There were about eighteen young adults in the group and their frustration at not being served Korean food was common. Most of them were given a packed lunch that they threw out at school and replaced with self-bought ramen. I would recommend a sit-down meeting when the student arrives to talk about food expectations. Definitely find out about allergies, but rather than get into specific ingredient preferences just say, "Do you want to try American food? If so, is there anything you love or hate that we should consider when planning meals? Were you expecting Korean food? If so..."

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jetgirly
        soypower Sep 2, 2012 01:57 PM

        Yes! Homestay! That's what my mother called it. I may have failed to mention that my mother is a nice, little korean lady so a cultural exchange this is not. I think she just wants something on paper to guide her, in case she forgets anything in their verbal conversations. I'm just not sure how to format it. I keep starting and haven't been happy with anything I've come up with.

        That's good to know that the students you worked with actually wanted Korean food. I wasn't sure if homestays generally catered to the guests or if they served American food.

        1. re: soypower
          jmcarthur8 Sep 4, 2012 02:54 AM

          That's interesting that the Korean kids expected to be served Korean food. I would think that if I were staying with an American ( or French, German, Mexican, etc) family, they'd be serving the food they usually cook for the family.
          It would be nice if the kids showed the host family how to cook some of their favorite foods, but to expect them to already be skilled in that culture's dishes is asking a lot.

          In the same way, if I stayed with a family overseas, should I expect them to serve me hot dogs, hamburgers and apple pie?

      2. todao Sep 2, 2012 01:36 PM

        It might be a good idea to also include an opportunity for him to list the foods he doesn't like so your mother can avoid those.

        1. CindyJ Sep 2, 2012 02:27 PM

          I might ask if he has any recipes from home he'd like to share with her. Maybe his mom makes something that would remind him of home if he had her recipe.

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