From meatballs to manju, festival fare travels the globe

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      Sweet! The invite of the summer has just arrived in your mailbox: “You have been cordially invited to the annual multicultural potluck extravaganza. It’s roaming; it spans the whole summer; and, best of all, you only need to bring yourself and your insatiable appetite. We’ve enclosed three-course menu previews as amuse-bouches for the feasting to come. Sincerely, your local cultural food fests.”

      Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
      (June 17 to 19 at the Scandinavian Community Centre [6540 Thomas Street, Burnaby])
      To the sounds of ABRA Cadabra performing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”, begin your meal with a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. Choose from shrimp, smoked salmon, roast beef, and liver pí¢té. After haggling with Norse traders at the Viking Village, it’s time to dig in to a main course of Danish frikadeller (meatballs) with mashed potato and pickled red cabbage, all paired with Carlsberg ale from the beer garden. Take a look-see at the Volvo Club’s antique cars on display before finishing with a Norwegian waffle, topped with plenty of strawberries and whipped cream.
      Info:, 604-294-2777.

      Greek Day
      (June 26 on West Broadway between Macdonald and Blenheim streets)
      The Hellenic Canadian Congress of B.C., along with major sponsor Krinos Foods Canada, is going green in a big way this year, with biodegradable food containers and composting bins. So, snack on your deep-fried calamari and spanakopita guilt-free. (Those calories don’t count.) Say hi to Zeus while you watch Greek-mythology theatre with the kiddies before gorging on filling gyros, souvlakis, and grilled farmer’s sausage (loukániko). And before you give in to those honey-soaked loukoumades (you know you want them) and an iced Greek frappé, dance along with the band Arcadia on the Krinos Mainstage, or browse for crafts at the agora.
      Info:, 604-738-7126.

      Philippine Summer Festival
      (July 23 and 24 at the PNE Forum)
      Watch the kiddies play traditional Philippine games while you munch on an appie of deep-fried lumpiang shanghai (spring rolls). Then, take in local singers and dancers, or compete in the singing contest if you have aspirations of becoming the next Philippine idol. Reward yourself for your courage with an entrée of roast suckling pig (lechón), and be sure to sip some refreshing coconut (buko) juice while you chow down. And as a sweet end to the day, treat yourself to halo-halo, shaved ice topped with caramelized plantain, leche flan, ice cream, and condensed milk, while you enjoy topnotch musical and comedic artists from the Philippines.
      Info:, 778-895-6667.

      Powell Street Festival
      (July 30 and 31 at Oppenheimer Park)
      Woot! This year is the festival’s 35th anniversary. Nibble gyoza and inari sushi (rice-stuffed sweet tofu pouches) before catching San Francisco’s Goh Nakamura, a folk artist who takes musical inspiration from everyday sounds. For your entrée, opt for chikara udon (udon soup topped with toasted mochi rice cakes), with some mugicha (barley tea) to cleanse it all down. Better yet, fill your water bottle up from the large water fountain, part of the Zero Waste Initiative. Finally, indulge in manju (red-bean-paste-filled cakes) as you contemplate Tashme Project, a play about Japanese-Canadian history and identity.
      Info:, 604-739-9388.

      (September 3 to 5 on the 600–800 blocks of Granville Street and the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza)
      The last stop of the multicultural food bonanza is a big sit-down street banquet. At the VAG Plaza, performers, among them a seven-member female band that blends East and West, will challenge stereotypes of Taiwanese culture. On Granville Street, sample three winners of Taipei’s annual beef noodle soup contest. Your next course, braised pork belly with preserved vegetables (mui choy kau yuk), will serve as a rich introduction to Hakka cuisine. And glutton that you are, go for a last course of fried-green-onion pancakes, a dish originating with Chinese military veterans stationed in Taiwan. Add a bubble tea, and you’ll be close to bursting, but man, will you be glad that you said yes to that beginning-of-summer invite.