Ready, set, eat! This year’s 33rd annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival celebrates the spirit of community – and there’s no better way to do that than with food.
Food celebrates culture. It tells a story of how we live, how we celebrate and how we share with one another.
Twenty cultures will share their favorite foods during the three-day festival, set for Sept. 20-22. There are plenty of old favorites (including the return of Korea), new friends (Trinidad and Bulgaria) and two who will be missed (Spain and Germany are taking this year off).
GUAM: Huge platters with chicken or beef short ribs, served with red rice, lumpia (a vegetable and beef fried eggroll), an onion and hot pepper sauce, and more meat: grilled marinated BBQ chicken or spicy beef and chicken in a spicy sauce. Platter items are also available a la carte, if you want just a taste. And cool off with a tropical smoothie.
TURKEY: A taste of the Mediterranean, with wraps, baklava and stuffed grape leaves. With its short menu, it’s hard not to sample one of each. The stuffed grape leaves are particularly intriguing.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF AUGUSTA: True Southern cooking, including the classic dessert, sweet potato pie. The pigs’ feet with rice always sells out – this year, find out why by ordering it early. Creole gumbo and red beans with rice are also winners.
IRELAND: Plenty of carbs, meat and of course, Irish whiskey (in cake form; go early, especially if you want a whole or half-cake!). You can’t go wrong with the fish and chips or bangers and mash.
JAMAICA: Curry and jerk platters, mon, with a meat, rice and peas, fried plantains and Caribbean salad. This is your opportunity to try curry goat. If you’ve never had oxtails, order them! They’re rich, meaty and delicious.
ACHA (ASOCIACION CULTURAL HISPANOAMERICANA): Entrée platters with yellow rice; plantains; and savory chicken, pork or beef. ACHA also offers a wide variety of snacks that double as meals. Come here for your taco fix; or try an empañada, a spicy meat pie.
THAILAND: Three-item combination platters, including meat or curry, rice or noodles, spring roll or papaya salad. Come here for their rich massaman curry (a yellow curry with notes of lemongrass) or green curry (with green chiles and basil) over rice.
FRANCE: Menu unavailable.
INDIA: Platters of vegetarian Indian cuisine, including rice, bread, vegetables, chickpeas and crispy veggie fritters, plus dessert. Order the samosa with bright green chutney as a snack – fried pastry with a savory filling. The masala dosa is an unusual potato-filled wrap.
CHINA: Familiar entrees such as sesame chicken and lo mein with fried rice, eggroll and chicken wings. Step out of your comfort zone by sampling more authentic fare, including the roast pork bun – fluffy steamed dough encasing a sweet and savory pork filling. Take home some of the recipes with the CCBA Chinese Cookbook.
BULGARIA: A short menu of kebabs with pita, hummus and pistachio baklava. The hummus with pita would make a great snack, and the pistachio baklava is also an interesting variation.
KOREA: Bul go ki platters with the classic Korean BBQ beef or a spicy pork variation, with rice, two sides and vegetable tempura. You’ll gravitate naturally to the bul go ki, a darkly grilled beef that is rich and sweet and savory. Don’t forget the kim chi, Korea’s go-to condiment.
TRINIDAD: A huge selection of meat or vegetarian entrees served with salad or steamed vegetables. The classic Trinidadian street food is roti: bread wrapped around a curried filling. Here, choose from goat, chicken or chickpeas and potato (chana and alloo).
LAOS: Platters with your choice of three out of five items and milky or fruity bubble tea (similar to a milkshake with tapioca or “popping” bubbles). The lemongrass chicken and spicy chicken are tempting entrees.
NIGERIA: Classic Nigerian dishes, including a marinated beef-and-rice platter, and snacks. The meat pie with its flaky crust and savory meat filling is a perfect snack. Also try their version of meat on a stick, suya.
PAKISTAN: Curry combination platters (meat and vegetarian), with rice pilaf and pakora, a fried vegetable snack. Try either the beef or chicken curry, rich in Pakistani spices.
PHILIPPINES: Favorites, including lumpia (pork eggroll), noodles and tangy chicken adobo. It’s not a festival without their version of meat on a stick: fragrant, marinated grilled pork.
SAMOA: Samoan barbecue – chicken, ribs and sausage. Try it all with the plate – a sampling of chicken, a rib, sausage, chop suey, rice and a cream banana (bananas in a creamy coconut sauce)
GREECE: An early taste of October’s Greek Festival – pass the tzatziki sauce! This is the place to enjoy a classic lamb gyro. For a twist, order the chicken souvlaki. And don’t forget baklava, a sweet dessert of layered phyllo, honey and nuts.
GREATER AUGUSTA ARTS COUNCIL HOT DOG STAND: The great American hot dog and drinks. Add chili or go for the “danger dog” – a hot dog wrapped in bacon!