Sunday, February 7, 2010

Multiculturalism rocks!

So this weekend, for once, I'm glad to be living in Canberra. Why? Because this weekend is the National Multicultural Festival. Which means awesome food and lots of free stuff. And how are these bad things?????? And while multiculturalism rocks all the time, this weekend, it rocks just that little bit harder.

Okay, so it's insanely crowded (I think pretty much all of Canberra was there), and you're pretty much guaranteed to get a) stood on, and b) sunburnt. But it totally doesn't matter. Because you get to relive past travel experiences and plan new ones solely based on food ;) Well, not SOLELY based on food. Most countries also have a tent handing out travel brochures and generally providing you with information about the country. The American tent, rather creatively, had life sized cardboard cutouts of Barack and Michelle Obama that you could have your photo taken with. It scared the bejeezus out of me when I saw it, because my brain went "Why is Obama standing around in Canberra with no Secret Service types around? And why is he grinning like an idiot??" before common sense kicked in and I realised it was a cardboard Obama... The American tent, sadly, didn't serve food. I suspect they probably just directed people to the Krispy Kreme stand in the Canberra Centre...

There were a multitude of stages with people performing traditional dances in traditional costume - and I'm sure the girls from Eastern Europe in their velvet costumes and woollen tights were incredibly glad that it wasn't 40 degrees like last year. And there were occasionally entertaining sights - like the Saudi Arabian stall, which was run by guys in traditional costume. Apparently traditional costume now includes anti-flash aviator Ray-Bans...

But mostly, the Multicultural Festival is about community groups getting together to teach others about their culture through traditional food. Isa was thrilled that there was a Tongan stall and she could get 'otai. Although she was rather perplexed that the women running it were completely nonplussed when she spoke to them in Tongan. For a gold coin donation, the Tongan men would give you a bowl of kava to try. And there were a disturbing number of people willing to try it. Which I'm fairly certain is illegal under the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code... *shrugs* Argh - begone, Beverage Manufacturing Nerd Kirsti!! I banish thee to the pit from whence thou came!!

Ahem. Where was I?? Oh, right. Kava. For anyone who's ever tempted to try it, I offer you Isa's description of her kava drinking experience in Tonga: "It tastes like baby powder mixed with mud. And they strain it through a sock." Mmmmm, delicious... Anyway, kava aside, the food is what makes the Multicultural Festival worthwhile. You can get pretty much anything you want - from Spanish blood sausage to Fijian lovo cooked pork to Polish doughnuts to phad Thai to empanadas to South African jerky. I was desperately hoping that the Peruvian stall from last year would be there again. Alas... So instead, I settled for arepas de queso blanco from the Venezuelan stall. Which, by a happy coincidence, also sold this:

For anyone who's not tried the deliciousness that is Inca Kola, it's basically electric yellow caffeinated creamy soda. It's the one exception to my "no caffeinated beverages" rule. It's awesome and practically impossible to get in Australia. Which is why I love the Multicultural Festival - the impossible is made possible. (Okay, now I have Barney Stinson in my head talking about the "possimpible"...)
Once on a suitable sugar/food colouring high, Leah and I developed food envy over Cinnamon's Polish doughnut, and went in search of our own. Only to discover that the Polish tent had RUN OUT OF EVERYTHING BUT POLISH BEER. Which was somewhat distressing... So instead we wandered over to the Sicilian tent and got cannoli. Which was completely delicious, but left me with "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." in my head all afternoon... Still, I suppose it was appropriate, given that it was the Sicilian tent...
Anyway, long story short(ish) - if you're ever in Canberra when the Multicultural Festival is on, do yourself a favour - empty your bank account, brave the crowds, and eat your way around the world!!
K xx :)

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