Saturday, February 10, 2007

The World of Food in Canberra

This weekend the Multicultural Food Festival was held here in Canberra. It's an annual event and a highlight of the year for me. There were around 100 stalls (I think) hailing from all parts of the world - from Cuba to Papua New Guinea to Belgium. As usual I ate myself to a standstill and then rolled home.

The only downside was that I forgot to take my camera with me. I kicked myself repeatedly. But I brought home heaps of treats to scoff later and I have managed to capture those (see below).

I have two hard and fast rules for this festival. No indian, sri lankan, thai or chinese. No doubt the food would be delicious, but I can pretty much eat curry puffs or satay sticks any night of the week from any of a dozen different restaurants in my neighbourhood alone. I prefer to focus on cuisines where I have few other opportunities to sample them.

The other rule is snack food only. I am always hugely tempted by the vast array of sausages that are on offer. German, Polish, Hungarian, Macedonian, South African to name just a few. But they are filling and I can only eat so much. I like to maximise the variety of foods I can sample.

So anyway, this is what I ate this year.

Savoury Dishes

Meat momo from Tibet. Very good. In 2002, I spent three weeks in Tibet living on yak momos. I really enjoyed them. The gradual variation in momos was interesting - at least to me anyway. They graduated from a very bready dough wrapper in Tibet to very much a noodle wrapper as you moved further into China.

Za'atar bread from Saudi Arabia. Okay. A thin dough spread with a za'tar mix and then rolled up swiss roll fashion and sliced. I found it a bit dry to be honest.

Kaakro (banana and polenta puff) from Ghana. Pleasant and Interesting. A deep fried ball of grainy polenta with a lovely banana flavour.

Mandu (pork fried pork and vegetable dumpling) from Korea. Excellent. Very small half moon shaped noodle parcels filled with pork and vegetables, pan fried to a lovely crispy bown on the bottom. Kind of like a potsticker I guess. It was delicious.

Mashed potato kebab from Pakistan. Good. A round deep fried ball of potato heavily spiced with coriander, fennel seeds and chile. So not what I would normally term as a kebab. It was a bit too spicy for my tastes. I am a whimp in this direction.

Empanada from Chile. Delicious. A crispy pastry filled with tasty meat with gravy, boiled eggs and olives.

Cabbage and Egg Piroshki from Russia. Okay. A flaky pastry filled with cabbage and egg. I think I was just far too full by this stage to really enjoy it.

Sweet Dishes

Pasteis de Nata (custard tart) from Portugal. Good. Crispy pastry filled with custard and topped with caramel. A bit too sweet for my tastes.

Churros con chocolate from Spain. Good. Deep fried pastry piped into circles that are dunked in a chocolate sauce. I would have preferred more chocolate, there wasn't quite enough.


Young coconut juice from Bangladesh. Excellent. One of may all time favourite drinks. So sweet and refreshing and yum.

Otai from Tonga. Delicious. A watermelon, pineapple and coconut fruit punch. This is always a highlight. It is absolutely delicious and I love it.

Lemonade from Finland. Excellent. I would love to know how it is made. It was more of a bitter lemon flavour rather than the overly sweet variety of lemonade that you usually get.

Take Home Treats

Soft Torrone from Italy. Good.
Rich and chewy and studded with

Biltong from South Africa. Yum. It's a strange thing to like, but I really do. I have gloriously happy memories of gnawing on biltong throughout a road trip around southern africa a few years back.

Potica (Walnut Cake) from Slovenia. Good, but it just couldn't live up to the plum cake I'm afraid.

Milk Tart from South Africa. Very good.
Strangely enough, I never actually ate this
while I was in South Africa. But I love custard
tarts and this is an excellent version.

Plum Cake from Poland. Scrumptious. A real homemade treat. Rich and buttery with lovely juicy plums. And they didn't stint on portions either. The stall was run by some lovely old ladies. I am totally jealous of their grandchildren. I wish I had the recipe.

Almond Biscuits from Bulgaria. Good. Lovely and crisp.

Turkish Delight from Turkey. Divine. I love Turkish Delight. This was lovely and chewy with little slivers of pistachio.


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