Travel Around the World – Right Here in St. Louis

Thursday August 6, 2015

Festival of Nations - Katherine Bish

If your idea of nirvana is international cuisine, welcome to the International Institute St. Louis’ Festival of Nations where you can go from Greece to Afghanistan in under a minute.

Did you ever dream of doing a culinary tour of the world? Jet from place to place sampling the best of cuisines of a multitude of countries?

Breakfast on Bosnian apple strudel—why not? Jet to Jamaica for jerk chicken and reggae wings for lunch or maybe a kofte sandwich and baklava in Turkey?

Hit Japan for a dinner of yakisoba (Japanese style stir-fried noodle), taiyaki (fish-shaped pancake with custard), edamame and Japanese shaved ice?

or Spain for gazpacho and paella or Argentina for empenadas de carne (meat pies?

Maybe a refreshing café frappe in Romania in between?

Sounds like a dream—and one that would take days and lots of money to achieve.

But we’ve got a better idea—visit the International Institute St. Louis’ Festival of Nations later this month in beautiful Tower Grove Park where you can sample the cuisines of more than 40 ethnicities in one place.

In addition to the dishes above, festival-goers can try Senegalese yassa chicken, fried plantains and red beans and rice or Scottish haggis and mash, bangers and mash and mince and tatties and scores of other delicious food items often not available for purchase elsewhere in St. Louis New this year are Colombian, Jamaican and Polish dishes.

Festival of Nations food (falafel)

And in between dining on the cuisines of the world, check out the folk art demos, enjoy entertainment from around the world and shop at the world at the festival’s craft marketplace. It’s duty-free and no passport is required! In all about 70 countries or ethnicities and 125 community ethnic organizations are represented throughout the festival. You can check the entire schedule here.

And the best part is other than food and gift purchases, the festival entertainment and activities are free.

This unusual cultural event, one of the most popular festivals on St. Louis’ very full events calendar, is a multicultural celebration like none other. Featuring food,

This year several changes will greet visitors including a reconfiguration of the fair site. The site will stretch becoming longer than it was in past years in an effort to ensure fair-goers don’t miss a thing.

“One of the challenges before was with the food booths going down the middle, many people missed the Festival North area which included our World Music Stage and our sports area with the Highland Games,” Anna Crosslin, President and CEO of the Institute, said.

This year there will be three performing stages instead of three but that doesn’t mean less entertainment, Crosslin said. By eliminating the time between acts, the entertainment will be non-stop.

And there will be two kids areas this year—the ever-popular area featuring ethnic crafts and a new activity where kids can make ethnic instruments and then participate in a parade and grand opening on the Forest Stage, Crosslin said.

Also new this year is a mobile-friendly website compatible with tablets and  phones where festival-goers will find maps and everything they need to know to plan their visit. The replaces the festival app used in previous years.

If you go. . .

Festival of Nations is held in Tower Grove Park Tower Grove Park near S. Grand and Arsenal. A free shuttle service will be available throughout the park.

10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29
10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 30

Admission is free.

Check out the schedule of events.

Insider tip: Come early and hungry; stay late, leave full and pick up something  for lunch the next day. And don’t miss the Romania café frappe.

Guest Blogger Kathie Sutin contributed to this blog.

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