Sidetracked. The festival is hosted in a large park (Hawreluk to be precise) in the heart of Edmonton. Countries set up anywhere from 1-3 booths and sometimes a stage. The booths sell food, souvenirs and sometimes even educate patrons about said country/culture. The stage features dancers, musicians and martial artists specific to that country. Let’s be honest, though, it is all about the food. Many of the Muslim countries were kind enough to serve all of us while continuing to fast for Ramadan. The cultural information was generally a bit lacking (with some notable exceptions), there was a definite push to sell tacky objects of little usefulness and smothering crowds. And smothering heat. But it was all worth it.
What was a bit disappointing the first day was how difficult it was to find foods or cuisines that I had never really sampled. No, I hadn’t really had Nepalese cuisine before but it was very similar to the Indian food I am used to. Most middle eastern countries served the same general dishes and the Eastern Europeans pulled out the sausages and the croatian/romanian/serbian do-nuts, Latin America represented with tamales…you get the idea. Perhaps I am just too cultured 😉 So the first day was a bit of a bust but not entirely.
Philippines – Halo Halo – a schizophrenic concoction that starts with beans (red and chickpea), add coconut jellies, syrup, shaved ice and topped with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy! It was not unpleasant. Not recommended to anyone who has texture aversions as you never quite knew what you would get. Definitely one of the most unsual and unlike-anything-I-had-before items of the festival.
Nepal – chicken curry – basically a chicken tikka. Nothing new but also not disappointing. I love Indian food so I could definitely love Nepalese as well.
Nicaragua – nacatamale – this must translate as the mother of all tamales. It was huge and, ultimately, a big waste of my last tickets. A big glob of bland corn mush with a chicken leg cooked right inside. A few hidden gems of peppers or an olive but overall boring and bland.
Where day 1 lacked in food it made up for with entertainment. A barefoot, crooning grandmother at the first nations tent, some traditional Romanian folk dancing and Irish folk dancers who stole their wigs from a drag show.