Thursday, February 15, 2007

Canberra MultiCultural Festival

I know that for most people in the English speaking world, culinary events in February revolve around heart-shaped meals and chocolate and all things red. However, here in Canberra, we get something very special. The Canberra Multicultural Festival Food and Dance Spectacular! I'm not kidding, that is it's full title, and it really lives up to it's name. There were 140 food stalls! I saw two Ethiopian, three Polish, two Argentinian, not to mention Hungarian, Croatian, the Islamic Women's Friendship Society, Swahili food, South African food, Sri Lankan, Indian, Chilean, Spanish, Belgian, Japanese, several Vietnamese, a heap of Thai...
It seemed like all of Canberra turned out, and if you don't believe me look here, here, here and even the good old ABC got into it. The dancing was equally prolific, if a bit baffling at times. There were four stages, and I made sure I got to see the belly dance extravaganza, which went from African dance, through Egyptian, gypsy, flamenco to khaleeji and some wild and wonderful pop interpretations. I loved every minute!
So, how do you eat your way around the world without breaking your budget?
- Take your play money in cash - and leave all forms of plastic currency at home.
- Eat a big breakfast at home
- Take a water bottle, and re-fill it up at the 'seniors rest point'
- minimize alcohol consumption. well, try, anyway. keep in mind that Polish beer is sold in 550 mL bottles : )
- look around, and opt for a number of small things, rather than a plate full.

I had Hungarian fried bread with sour cream and garlic, followed by Dutch pancakes for lunch. For dinner I had a triangular spinach pastry from the Islamic women's society (they really were friendly), followed by a masala dosai (which turned out to be flat bread wrapped around a potato curry, with an extremely spicy coconut chutney). I have to admit at this stage that I followed this with another batch of dutch pancakes. This cost me around $20. I also got to taste Ryan's Hungarian smoked sausage, and various other goodies bought by my friends. I really wanted to try the Chilean empanadas, but they sold out.
It really was a spectacular day out. It threatened to rain, and eventually did around 7pm, but that just meant a brief rest in the pub. We managed to continue eating and dancing well into the night.

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