Tasting the World in Raleigh, NC

By Jenna Hokanson – 2014

Upon arriving at the International Festival, I was already overwhelmed (in the best way) by the types of music, the saris, the calligraphy, and the henna displayed before me. I was, however, not anticipating the most exciting part of the entire festival- the food. This was not your typical assortment of food. There were desserts, appetizers, drinks, and delicacies from all over the world lined up in a long row of uniquely decorated stalls. I walked along this aisle for some time gazing at everything, wishing that  my stomach had infinite space and my conscience could take infinite calories.

Kenya Food Booth

I decided that I would first get the food at the Kenya table because it’s a country that I have always wanted to visit. The food I chose was “Bean with coconut milk”- which is exactly what it sounds like; kidney beans and rice cooked in a coconut milk sauce. The result was not like anything I’d ever tasted, but not in an overpowering way. The beans added substance, while the coconut milk provided a sweetness that brought the savory flavor to the beans out nicely. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish- I can still taste it… and even still crave it now and then.           

Kenya Beans

Even though I knew we’d be eating later, food is quite important to me and I had to try something else while I had such a large selection.  I looked for a dessert.  Caroline and I came across a dish called “Cheese Bread” from the Brazilian booth.  The line for what sounded like normal bread was absurdly long. I wanted to be unique and not try a dish with such simple ingredients, but then Caroline ate the “Nutella-filled Cheese Bread”. She loved it in such a surprised and curious way that I had to try it.  I think to this day I’m not sure how I felt about it. The ball of soft bread literally had a white cheese squeezed into it, along with a layer of Nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread) squeezed on top of it.  Each bite I changed my mind about my opinion of this treat. The bites with more cheese made me uncomfortable, but the bites with more Nutella worked nicely.

Cheese Bread

Overall, I am so thankful that I tried both dishes because it was likely my favorite part of the festival. As someone who cannot get out to see the world like I’d love to, this festival was the perfect little taste of what there is out there to see.

Jenna and Miranda with Saris


For more information, check out: http://www.internationalfocusnc.org/festival