If you've ever dreamed of eating your way through the fast-food stations of Asia, make sure you hit next year's Asian Culture Festival, which takes place annually at the Fruit & Spice Park in Homestead. Sure, the obvious Asian countries were represented, but we also got to try the flavors of Persia (kubideh [ground beef], Bangladesh (pakora), Laos (papaya salad), Vietnam (lemongrass chicken), and even Turkey (Turkish coffee and baklava).
We got a lesson not only in culinary invention but also in geography: We never realized Israel and Pakistan were considered part of Asia, for example, and we had to Google "Myanmar" to figure out exactly where that country could be found and why we might want to visit it someday.
Yes, we occasionally scanned through booths with various offerings, from paddy hats and Suzie Wong dresses to bamboo gazebos and lanterns, but our stomachs kept drawing us back to the food vendors. Here are highlights of what we ate and saw:
Teriyaki chicken. You can find it anywhere, but you can get a glaze like this only when the real homeboys make it.
Carved fruit. Pam Maneeratana (pictured) offered to teach us how to turn a watermelon into a Bob Mackie-inspired Barbie skirt. Now that's entertainment.
Eel. We didn't find any being offered, but we caught this photo for sale. Now you can believe our U.S. Army boys when they say, "It's this big."
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Rice: It came in all forms, but we devoured a number of these sticks containing sticky, sweet rice smoked inside bamboo.
Fried everything: If you could find it, they could fry it. Many of the booths offered fried bananas, sweet potato, and eggplant, along with fried meats of all kinds.
And what would the Asian Cultural Festival be without its share of spelling and grammatical errors. We loved us some "pork rhinds," "stricky rice, and "sweets balls."