Saturday, May 7, 2011

Falafel, Momos, and Not Chicken McNuggets

Don't you love those times when staying away from the TV is easy because you have something inherently better to do? Last evening, four of my work friends and I sprang from the office and headed to the Festival of Nations, an annual event held within walking distance. Billed as "the largest and longest running multicultural festival in Minnesota," it turned out, for us, to be an excuse to graze a tableful of food.

Within minutes of arrival, our task became simple: Claim a giant table, split up, wander among 40 booths representing different countries, grab what appeals to each of us, return to home base, and let the feast begin. I'll tell you, if I ever find myself stranded somewhere in an international bazaar, these are the ladies I'd want along with me. Here's what made its way to our table:
* A Falafel (Egyptian)
* Momos, Steamed Veggie Dumplings (Tibetan)
* A Spicy Meat Patty (African American)
* Hummus with Pita (Egyptian)
* Perogies (Ukranian)
* Lumpia, Veggie Egg Rolls (Indonesian)
* Bakwan Sayor, Veggie Tempura (Indonesian)
* A Banana Spring Roll (Indonesian)
* A Mango Lassi (Nepalese)
* An Enormously Fluffy Eclair (French)
* and perhaps my favorite, fried patties on a stick labeled "Not Chicken Nuggets," which turned out to be lovely coconut balls called Carioca (Filipino)

Our conversation flowed comfortably, as we reached across each other to sample a bit of this and a bit of that. Even retelling the experience now is enjoyable. Afterward we scoped out an array of jewelry and a seemingly endless selection of jumping marionette-style stuffed toys. Next, we took in some dance demonstrations. Some of them served as a comforting backdrop as we chatted about everything but work, and others, like the Vietnamese Dragon Dance, mesmerized us with color and drama.

Here's to starting the weekend with curiosity, intention, and friends old and new.

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