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Jun 25, 2008 05:14 PM

Folklife Festival Report

After many years of attending my favorite cultural event, I have finally eaten something delicious at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. And I didn't even have to bring it with me.

The Bhutan cheese and chili dish, highlighted in a recent Washington Post article, is very delicious. I doubt it's authentic, but I won't quibble: it is a small prortion of soft curds mixed in with jalapenos drowned in a butter sauce. It is somewhat spicy, nothing that shouldgive anyone pause forordering it. It is served with a fluffy mix of rice and kasha. I did not taste the other two items served, a shredded chicken dish (also with chili), and some pork and cheese dumplings.

The Texas part of the Festival looks like it will be a major disappointment. Aside from a dance hall and a music tent, there are almost no exhibits. Did something go wrong?

Foodwise, one stand has fajitas, taquitos,and enchiladas. It is prepared by Mexicana Bakery of Manassas.

I tried the fajitas. They are served with a tasty very short grain rice that is tinged orange from carrot cooked in somekind of stock. The beans are simple and very well prepared The meat is well below average, even for this area. The tortillas are good, the salsa a crime against food. We're talking a world's worst here.

The other Texas stand has Vietnamese food. As a sign points out the justification for this is the boat people who settled in coastal Texas and shrimped for a living. So guess what they offer as food: yes, you guessed right, chicken. Two kinds. And a tofu dish. Apparently those shrimpers weren't as successful as I thought. I asked about the chef, and he is Thai. Because "the food is so similar" according to one eager employee.

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  1. In the very early days of the Folklife Festival, the food was worth eating. They weren't tied to health department regulations (or maybe they just didn't know) and not only were there native cooks selling food, the exhibition cooks gave out samples of what they were cooking. It was also before Tippy's Taco House opened in the area, so a simple taco for a buck at the festival was a treat. These days, I always grab a sandwich before I go down to the festival, and I'm usually out of there before rush hour. Leave the caterers for the tourists.

    As to no craft exhibits in the Texas area, well, that's unusual, but there's wine making. Maybe they let NASA represent Texas with their Houston connection. You didn't try any space food, did you? I was hoping that they'd have a few traditional contest-style Texas fiddlers (they used to have a fiddle contest on July 4) but the American Texas music this year is pretty modern.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MikeR

      Good to know it wasn't always a total waste. But I was hoping for some form of bbq from Texas, even a caterer's version.

    2. Washingtonian reports on the Texas part of the festival:

      At first I was really excited for the authentic texas bbq, but then I read we won't be able to eat what they are demoing... what a tease. Well, sounds cool to watch, and I'm always looking to get new BBQ tips.