Monday, August 20, 2012

Around the World in Two Hours

A cute little Japanese kokeshi doll with a blonde bob.
My friends Conor, Kate, Alex and I traveled around the world this weekend via Kansas City's 33rd annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival. The Ethnic Enrichment Festival presents food tents, hand-crafted objects, heritage groups, and performances derived from many different cultures. My main goals were to eat a plantain and purchase a kokeshi doll. As you can see, I brought home a sweet li'l kokeshi doll with a blonde bob and a red kimono. In addition to eating an Ecuadoran fried plantain, we also tried the following: empanadas from Ecuador; Brazilian beef skewers served with a corn-based dipping powder and a really yummy tomato and onion relish; a Lithuanian (I think!?) bacon bun; Israeli falafel platters of generous proportions sold by a gentleman so gregarious, we just couldn't say no; and delicious Kenyan beef sambusas.

My boss is on the Ethnic Enrichment Commission and was working the Kenyan booth, as her husband is from Kenya. I am not just saying this to win brownie (sambusa?) points, but my friends and I agreed the sambusas were the best treat we tried. Conor also gave the plantains a rave review, based on facial expression alone. Kate, Conor and I also decided we had a far better time this year as compared to last year, not only because Alex was there, but also because we tried many different foods, instead of complaining about our bodies while denying ourselves the taste-testing in which we actually desired to participate.

After touring the world, Kate, Alex and I took Conor home, at his request, and then met our friend Tashina at The Recordbar for some live music. Tashina knew the members of one of the bands, and I feel appreciative that she wanted us to hear them. I see Tashina too rarely but always enjoy her company when we do get together.

I also enjoy seeing live music. It makes me feel engaged and connected with other fans. I LOVE The Recordbar as a music venue (plus, they serve the BEST bbq chicken pizza), but here's a story that seems to sum up the majority of my experiences there. I went to The Recordbar to see a show with my friend Brooke a few years ago. We were waiting in line for the restroom, and Brooke asked the girl ahead of us what the next band up sounded like and that she had heard some guy say he thought they kind of sounded like The Who. The girl hemmed and hawed and finally said, "Um, I don't really like to label things." Um, that's an obnoxious response. We all label things. Otherwise, the girl wouldn't have been dressed like a hipster, trying to fit in with the typical weekend Recordbar crowd. Anyway, on a semi-regular basis I use that poor girl as an example of how humans like to fit in with each  other (and exclude outsiders) and thus label themselves through actions or visual signals, even if they can't admit/don't know that's what they are doing. Nor am I immune. It's not a diss on the Recordbar at all. I love the place. I just never seem to fit in while wearing my boot cut jeans and semi-professional tops (cuz, you know, I don't like to buy shirts I can't wear to work). The lovely thing is that I usually have a fun time and end up running into cool people, and oftentimes friends or acquaintances, no matter how I dress. And thank goodness I bought some skinny jeans this weekend. It was about dang time.

Kansas City hosts tons of festivals throughout the year. I think Irish Fest is next up, but there could be something else in between EEF and IF... If you are a Kansas Citian, what's your favorite festival of the year? If you're not from here, what festival should I visit in your hometown?

Alison :)

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