Armenian Food Festival 2006

After the play, I headed south to the Armenian food festival. Last year, I had a good experience at an Armenian festival in Oakland. Although the festival was supposed to close at 8:00pm, when I arrived at 6:00pm it was already mostly shut down. I wandered among the few booths still open and grabbed one of the two types of hot dishes remaining: an Armenian sausage (soujook) sandwich. When I ordered they grabbed one of these aluminum-wrapped sandwiches out of a steamer and handed it to me. It consisted of slices of sausage, red pepper, pickle, and possibly mustard on a hoagie roll; the sausage itself was chewy, quite red, spicy, and definitely screamed "this is meat." It satisfied.

While I ate I watched some Armenian folk/line dancing. About a dozen women clasped hands and danced in a semi-circle, kicking and stepping in synch. They were clearly having fun and it made everyone at the festival watch. A handful of men formed their own square and dance in a different style with arms outstretched at shoulder height and with much more foot movement. When the music increased right before the festival really ended, more women joined the women's line. It really was a festival.

And one can tell the festival was authentic since all the announcements were made in Armenian. Some, though not all, were repeated in English.

Before I left, I grabbed two cheese filled pastries, one that looked like a turnover and one that looked like baklava except with cheese instead of nuts. (I didn't realize they were both cheese when I bought them.) Reheating them later that evening in the oven along with some vegetables, they completed my dinner. Incidentally, as I bought them, the woman in the pastry section were trying to figure out why they were closing early. Some hypothesized it might be because, aside for them, the festival was effectively out of food. I suppose that's what happens when one goes to a festival in the evening of the last day.

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