Monday, August 4, 2008

Heritage Festival

(here's the post I wrote on the Heritage Festival last year)

Every year, during the August long weekend, Edmonton has a Heritage Festival down at Hawrelak park. It's a wonderful celebration of cultures from around the world: over 60 pavilions representing more than 75 cultures!

As you can imagine, not only is there dancing, music, crafts, clothing, jewelery, and anything else remotely cultural... but there's also AMAZING food. It's actually quite overwhelming how many vegan foods are offered. Just look at that menu! Food and drinks are bought using special food tickets, which can sometimes get annoying when you're stuck in a long ticket booth line, but it's not a big deal if you get a lot of tickets early in the day.

Usually, when we go, I'm there with my family for an hour or two for just one of the days. This year, I decided that there was so much to do and see and EAT that I would go all 3 days. Intense!

On Saturday, I went with my friend Jaime. We were there for 4 hours, which ended up being just a bit much. It was definitely a lot of fun, though, and I really liked going into every single pavilion.

We also discovered the 'freebie' tents set up by sponsors- radio stations, the army, the city government, the police service, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Enmax, Western Union... I managed to end up with a reusable grocery bag, some frisbees, a few pencils and pens, a notebook, a poster, bookmarks, a flashlight keychain, erasers, temporary tatoos... and more! Jaime said that she felt bad about taking all this free stuff, but I joked that "it's not stealing, it's just taking advantage!" (besides, I'm going to use most of this swag anyways, especially the frisbees)

What did we eat? I had alicha, Eritrean vegetables on injera bread. YUM. OH WOW DO I EVER LOVE INJERA.
In fact, it was so good that I headed to the Ethiopian pavilion for some more injera, but with two kinds of lentils instead.

Needless to say, I was one happy vegan. :D

One dish that Jaime had was an interesting sort of Japanese pizza/pancake, okonomi yaki. I had a feeling it wasn't vegan (and I was right), but it would be cool to make a vegetable-loaded vegan version sometime.

The next day, Sunday, I went with my mom and sisters. We were there for only an hour or so, haha. I still managed to get some great food, though! Heh.

From the Kenyan pavilion, I bought some kale with simmered cornmeal. The kale was delicious, albeit a bit oily, while I wasn't a huge fan of the cornmeal. Still a satisfying lunch, though, and I was glad to support the Kenyan culture. There wasn't anyone in line when I popped by their pavilion, which is unusual at Heritage Days, so I felt bad for them!

I had a craving for some more vegetables, of course, so I then headed down to the Taiwan Buffet for some mixed vegetable stir-fry. Yum! Still a bit oily, but still delicious.

At the Vietnamese tent:

Yay, gotta love that green tea!
When I biked back to Heritage Days today (Monday), I met up with a group of friends. Being the last day of the festival, it was a good deal more crowded than it had been on the previous days. When we were watched Jaime do her Irish dancing, which was definitely very cool. Actually, all the dancing there is really quite awesome!

Now, what did I eat? I had some fresh mango from Fiji, alicha again from Eritrea, and some Perrier water from the French pavilion. :)

Overall, I had an AWESOME time. I'll do my best to go all 3 days again next year, since it's such an amazing experience and only happens once a year anyways. Besides, there was some food that I didn't get to try because it ran out (namely, the steamed vegetables from Ethiopia! I was looking forward to those, but both times I went on two seperate days they had run out) or I just didn't end up getting (barbeque corn, Nepalese black bean & rice soup).

Can't wait for next year! :D

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