International Student Samples Regional Dessert

Kerry Wilson, Staff Writer

International Coffee House night at the Baptist Student Ministry brought international students together in fellowship while sharing desserts from their native countries and allowed one student to enjoy a familiar dessert from America – tiger butter.

Viktoria Tabeleva, native of Kyrgyzstan, has lived in the United States for four and a half years and during her time here, one of the desserts she has enjoyed has been tiger butter. Tabeleva said her first time trying tiger butter was with her American family in Willis Point during Christmas.

“The first time I had it was during Christmastime when everybody was getting presents,” Tabeleva said. “I got it and I was like, ‘Oh OK, what is this?’ and I opened it and there were all kinds of cookies and peanut brittle and this butter.”

Tiger butter, a native dessert of the southern part of the U.S., is a mixture of white chocolate, peanut butter, and dark chocolate. The white chocolate and peanut butter are melted in a pot and then poured into a baking pan. Dark chocolate is then melted and swirled with the white chocolate-peanut butter mixture, creating the impression of tiger stripes.

Tabeleva said one thing that is different about tiger butter from desserts in Kyrgyzstan is that it is made by hand.

“See, the cool thing is that they actually made it, because in Kyrgyzstan we buy such things,” she said. “We don’t actually make them because chocolate is expensive, so we can buy a chocolate bar where chocolate is kind of mixed.”

Tabeleva mentioned that aside from chocolate desserts being made by hand in America, the reason tiger butter is not made in Kyrgyzstan is because peanut butter is a rare find there.

“The number one reason why we don’t have tiger butter in Kyrgyzstan is because it is hard to find peanut butter, and it’s not very famous in Kyrgyzstan,” she said. “I had to look for it actually, but while I was living in Kyrgyzstan I didn’t know about peanut butter’s existence, so I got introduced to peanut butter for the first time here in the U.S. I fell in love with peanut butter, so when I went back home, I had to find it.”

When Tabeleva saw that tiger butter was one of the desserts on the menu at International Coffee House night, she was excited because the dessert reminds her of Christmastime and her family in America.

But despite tiger butter being a trademark dessert of the south, many Texas A&M University-Commerce students (who are from Texas) have never heard of it.

A&M-Commerce junior, Evangelio Meek, tried tiger butter for the first time after starting college.

“The time I had tiger butter, it was actually more of a surprise to me,” Meek said. “Because personally I really don’t like peanut butter other than peanut butter, so like Reese’s Pieces I don’t really enjoy. But, the interesting thing about eating tiger butter was that there was like this interexchange between the chocolate and the peanut butter flavors, and it kind of mellows out at the end. It was actually a really good experience.”

Meek grew up in Sulphur Springs and said that while growing up, his mother never made desserts a lot. He said that college opened the door to trying tiger butter.

“My mother never made desserts so much, so coming to college there is much more of a sharing of food between communities,” he said. “Tiger butter wasn’t a thing to me because chocolate and peanut butter, those two together, made me think of Reese’s peanut butter, but then the way that they make this, it’s a lot better.”