Food might not be its own program at the 45th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, but it certainly could be. With cooking demonstrations and concessions galore focusing on cuisine from Tonga to Georgia and everywhere in between, the event is sure to be nothing short of an eater’s paradise. The festival on the Mall runs from Thursday to Monday this week and next, and food will be served from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Monday, some concessions will stay open through the fireworks.
Here’s a glimpse of the feast in store, and for more information, visit www.festival.si.edu:
“Sabores y Saberes”
The festival’s “Sabores y Saberes” (flavors and knowledge) stage features demonstrations and programs dedicated to the many tastes of Colombian cooking. From regional breads and beverages to candy decorations and empanadas, festival-goers have the opportunity to learn as much about Colombian food as possible without hopping on a plane. To sample some of the foods explored in the daily programs, visit the concession stand, with food provided by Celena Zapata of Casa Oaxaca and Guajillo. Choices include slow-cooked chicken stew with potatoes and yuca, beef empanadas, plantains, and Colombian chorizo and arepas.
The Peace Corps sends volunteers to some of the most remote corners of the globe, so it should come as no surprise that volunteers return with 27 months’ worth of intimate familiarity with one particular cuisine. To acknowledge the culinary element of the Peace Corps experience, “Home Cooking” demonstrations will go on throughout the festival. Learn about food from Jamaica, Kenya, Zambia, Morocco, Mali, Guatemala and Kyrgyzstan, among other locales, and discover how to cook some of the traditional dishes from each. Make sure to leave room for dessert — each day concludes with a “Just Desserts” program at 5 p.m.
This year, the Folklife Festival takes a look at a culture a bit closer to home with the R&B program. To accompany the roster of speakers and performers (including ?uestlove’s Soul Train Dance Party Thursday), a menu of (what else?) old-fashioned barbecue from local purveyors KBQ will be a featured concession. Options include a pulled-pork platter, oak- and hickory-smoked pork ribs, smoked chicken wings and such sides as coleslaw and sweet potato chips.
If the cooking demonstrations make you ravenous, head to the food tents, which offer not only barbecue and Colombian food, but also dishes from Southeast Asia and West Africa at reasonable prices (nothing more than $10). At the Southeast Asia booth, catered by Teak Wood, you’ll find gra prao beef, panang chicken, larb gai (spicy ground chicken with lime leaves and coconut milk), pad Thai and Thai iced tea, in addition to a dessert of mango and sticky rice. The West African offerings include maffe (beef in peanut sauce), yassa (chicken in lemon juice with sauteed onions), thiebou dieun (fish, carrots, yuca and cabbage with tomato rice) and vegetable stew. All concessions are from local chefs.