Anyone who knows me will tell you that food is one of my main interests in life. Not preparing it, so much — but definitely consuming it. I love the variety of flavors and dishes offered by our world’s vast array of cultural cuisines, and there is one annual Missoula event where I have the opportunity to sample many of them.

Held annually at the University Center, the International Food Festival features a literal smorgasbord of authentic foreign food prepared by international students and volunteers. In fact, the cooks stay so true to tradition that many order their ingredients from far-away specialty stores, or even their home countries.

More than 40 countries will be represented at the festival, which is organized by UM’s International Student Association and the Office of Foreign Student and Scholar Services.

The best thing about the event is that the portion sizes are small and the prices are cheap, making it easy for eaters to indulge in a variety of dishes and flavors without breaking the bank. Items typically cost between 50 cents and $4.

Festival-goers will also have a chance enjoy live entertainment as well as hands-on activities designed for children, such as painting and origami.

The event will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 25. Admission costs $5 for adults and $3 for children.

My advice: if you’re in it for the food, get there early. It’s a popular event, and there will probably be a huge, hungry mob by 12:01 p.m. I have also — no joke — seen people bring in empty food containers and purchase their favorite items in bulk.

Still, I can assure you, the delicious end result is definitely worth navigating the crowd and possibly even throwing a few ’bows.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.