Sunday, October 26, 2008

Festival of Nations

A group of us met up at the Festival of Nations today, held at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

We could try foods from Ethiopia, Greece, Lithuania, India, China and more. I tried the Tree Cake from Lithuania - the batter/dough is dropped on a hot spit (not sure just how that works?) and as the spit rotates, the batter drips a bit, and "branches" form all over it. When done, the Tree Cake looks like a miniature evergreen, with a hollow center. The taste is light and sweet, a bit eggy, like the taste of a popover, but much more dense and slightly crunchy. It's traditionally used for very special occasions.

There were also booths for many countries, selling imports or handmade items. And, both the India and Pakistan booths were offering henna tattoos, which had steady lines of partakers! When the tattoo first goes on it looks like decorative frosting on a very fancy cake - in fact, the tube they squeeze the henna out of looks like a frosting tube with a small round icing tip. After a couple of hours, the 3D gel dries and flakes off, leaving the henna-color tattoo. The designs are very pretty and flowing - the tattoo-ee doesn't choose a design; the artist just begins work until the design is revealed.

Most, if not all, of the represented countries offered traditional dances throughout the day, which were really fun to watch. A crowd favorite (you could tell by the oohs, aaahs, and clapping!) was the China dance, with all of the fluttering green fans - very beautiful.

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