You guys, last Saturday I honestly wished I was a cow because I didn’t have enough stomach for all the food I wanted to eat. Cows have seven stomachs don’t they? I needed at least two to be able to handle all the amazing food on offer at the International Cultural Festival. I came home and spent about an hour reading and watching videos on how to make steamed buns, because those were one of the things I passed on but wished I had room for. Steamed buns. I don’t even know how I did it.
The International Cultural Festival, or Food Fest, as everyone calls it, has been going on for the last 22 years. My dad used to take me and my siblings when we were younger and we always had a blast. There were performances to watch, other children to make friends and run around with, and booths to stroll through! As we got older we didn’t have to stay so close to Daddy and I would meander on my own. I love jewellery and lots of the earrings in my collection are from years of attending the Food Fest.
When I went off to college, the International Cultural Festival was one of the things I missed about home. Each October I’d hear people talk about it and feel disappointed I wasn’t able to go. Even in NY, where I could totally have gotten everything on offer at Food Fest and then some, I missed the atmosphere of that weekend.
Last Saturday was the first time in five years that I’ve been able to go. I invited my friends Kelly and Drew to come with me, and predictably, we had lots of fun! In addition to food, booths showcase all the cultural items you might think of from their respective countries: paintings, sculptures, jewellery, textiles, oils, bags, shoes… the list feels inexhaustible. And there were over a hundred booths. The Bahamas is a very small country, but each October we’re reminded that it’s far more diverse than many of us think.
Kelly, Drew and I visited Poland’s booth to hail my dad and brother, who were working. My dad gave me a kebab and we shared a beer. That was unusual for me, since I don’t typically like beer, but this one, żywiec, was good. Kelly and Drew got gyros from the Greek stall, and I hung around the stall’s grill talking about quail with a farmer. He started the Adelaide Quail Company this year, and raises organic, antibiotic and hormone-free quail. They’re what he was cooking on the grill. He offered some to me and Kelly, and it was so juicy! Tangy from some lime, fragrant from chives, parsley, oregano and who knows what else, and finished with that smokey char from the grill.
The three of us also sampled tea from a Bahamian company, and got free cans of a malted drink. Bahamians love Vitamalt, and this brand is clearly trying to run competition. We took our first sips warily – in fact, Drew didn’t take any until Kelly and I had tried ours – and were happy to find that it tasted like Vitamalt! Haha. Not sure what that says for how successful they’re going to be.
In addition to the steamed buns, I looked longingly at samosas from India, waffles from Belgium, sugarcane juice from a Bahamian stall, and sky juice, a Bahamian cocktail. In the end, I decided to join Kelly and buy roti from Guyana to carry home for dinner. That was really yummy and made me wonder if I’ll ever figure out how to make it. All the times I’ve tried so far have been laughable.
The sun was hot! – as Bahamians like to say – but still the event drew thousands of people. It was crowded when we arrived around 2pm, and a few hours later as we were leaving it was even more so, with people lined up outside waiting to get in. The International Cultural Festival is an event you don’t want to miss if you’re in Nassau in October. Unless you don’t like crowds. Then it’s probably not for you. But otherwise, I can’t imagine you won’t find something you like at the festival, even if it’s the grounds of the Botanical Gardens!