One of our favorite activities in DC is the Embassy Open House. On two consecutive Saturdays in the spring, the EU and Non-EU embassies open their doors and invite us, and the thousands of other visitors, in to explore their cultures. The queues for food, and sometimes just to enter the embassy are long, and it’s near impossible to visit more than a half-dozen or so embassies on a single visit. Still, it’s tremendously fun, and we were a little sad to be missing it for the next few years.
And then I spied a poster earlier this fall on the grayish walls leading to the Commissary–the only spot of color, really–announcing the UN International Festival and Bazaar, an annual event with food and drink, arts and crafts, flea market, and used book fair.
An entire day could easily be spent at the event, and although we had an afternoon commitment elsewhere, we made the best of our few hours. It was nice to see the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon there to greet everyone!
The massive conference floors were a whirling dervish of smells, colors, and sounds from around the globe. Italy’s table was at the entrance, making it near impossible not to sample a wedge of Parmesan.
Japan, just across from Italy, offered Saki to go along with the Parmesan.
Not a family to pass on Thai food, we shared a box of the crispy rice nests with minced chicken while enjoying the fragrant curries simmering in the pans.
We did not sample the fare from Poland, it being a regular cuisine in our home. But there was no way that I would pass Russia and not consume herring on black bread. So, so tasty.
Anna Grace passed on the cold, pickled fish, but not on Russian chocolate.
While Tony pronounced Brazil’s Mojito the perfect accompaniment to savory snacks from Cuba. Jack, at this point, abandoned us in favor of any and all countries offering meat.
Kenya’s food was bright and colorful…
…but was no match for the Nigerian ladies’ headdresses.
Speaking of bright, who could resist Dadar Gulung, coconut pancake rolls from Indonesia? Not I. The green color is natural, from the Pandan leaves used in the recipe. The family didn’t like them, which left more for me!
The Arab Corner was the place to be. The dishes to be sampled, including an entire roasted pig, were as diverse as the women staffing the table.
The UK’s offerings were monochromatic and meager by comparison, and did not seem to be attracting many people.
Their whiskey selection, however, commanded a small queue.
For every country we visited, sadly, there were twice as many missed opportunities. Norway’s poster was so charming that I became distracted and can not even recall what they were offering!
So, we’ll have to wait until next year for Venezuelan chachapas and Danish cheeses…
…Macarons and Maple Syrup…
…Egyptian halvah that’s almost too pretty to eat…
…Lumpua from the Phillipines and Cyprus’ grilled eggplant…
…and maybe even Tango lessons.
To wrap up this post, a small quiz. Guess which country was offering Chili Dogs and A&W Root Beer?