Around The World in Two Days
Satisfy your craving for worldly cuisines at the 13th annual Festival of Nations
The Festival of Nations, held in Tower Grove Park over two days each August, showcases all aspects of a variety of world cultures, including a mouth-watering array of food. This year's festival on Aug. 24-25 features booths serving cuisines from 41 different countries—including two nations new to the roster, Japan and Spain. Attendees can even purchase a cookbook collection of recipes from all of the food vendors for $10—an offering that festival organizers added this year due to popular request. The proceeds help cover the cost of the festival and, if all goes well, we're told the tome could become an annual tradition. Here are just a few of the delicacies local foodies with a penchant for international eats can look forward to this year.
Festival vet Ray Prapaisilp is representing Thailand this year with chicken satay, tender grilled meat marinated for four days and served on a skewer; pad thai, that delicious Thai standby featuring stir-fried pho noodles and all manner of spices; and the milk and meat from freshly cracked coconuts. He'll also debut a new dish for hungry festivalgoers: sweet sticky rice with mangos. Everything is made from scratch and cooked on-site, which Prapaisilp says accounts for the popularity of his wares year after year.
Fatima Adegboye, the former owner of Fatima's Restaurant in The Loop and current proprietor of Fatima's Catering, knows a thing or two about Nigerian cooking and has been representing the country at the festival for the past several years. This time around, she's highlighting Nigerian culture by showcasing several indigenous favorites, including fried plantains and African honey beans (which she describes as a sweet variation of black-eyed peas).
You’ll find nothing but the classics here. The star of the show at the Greece booth is the gyro, a mix of lamb and beef shaved off a rotisserie and served on warm pita bread with onion, tomato and tzatziki sauce. George Zotos, who's been running the booth under the auspices of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (which also hosts the St. Nicholas Greek Festival Labor Day Weekend) for the last 11 years, will also have baklava for dessert and appetizer plates of feta, olives, pita and stuffed grape leaves on hand.
Igal Alon of the online kosher bakery ez2bakestl.com wants to give festivalgoers the feeling of walking into a Tel Aviv bakery. He'll have a variety of Israeli baked goods available at his booth this year, including a chocolate croissant. Similar to the traditional French favorite, this version is for dessert-lovers and includes layers of dark chocolate interspersed with the flaky pastry.
Burma is making its sixth appearance at the festival, and Kam Sing, one of the folks manning the booth, says his specialties for 2013 include beef and veggie kabobs—both of which have always proven to be crowd-pleasers in the past.
Festival of Nations
Photo credit: David S. Woller