How many cultural, ethnic food and music festivals will be taking place in Sacramento this week and in the next two weeks? First, there's the Turkish food and music festival in Monterey, California this weekend, August 24th and 25th, 2013. Next there's the annual Greek food and music festival in Sacramento at the downtown Sacramento convention center on the corner of 13th and I streets.
And if you're more interested in books than foods and music, check out the Saturday, August 24th, 2013 Local Author's Showcase free event presented by Sacramento Suburban Writers Club at the Arcade Library. The Arcade library is near Marconi Avenue and Fulton Avenue in Sacramento, at 2443 Marconi Avenue. It runs on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
As for the Eastern Mediterranean food and music events coming up, the Greek and Turkish food and music in many ways are similar, such as the variety of desserts, stuffed grape leaves, and various festival foods. If you're driving from Sacramento to Monterey this weekend, check out the free admission 16th annual Turkish food and music festival. It runs from Saturday, August 24th, 2013, 11:00 a.m. until Sunday, Aug 25, 2013, 7:00 p.m. The location is at Monterey Depot Lot, Del Monte Ave and Figueroa St (290 Figueroa St.) Monterey, CA 93940. For directions, see Mapquest. The Turkish food and music festival has a website, TurkFest.org for more information. And the admission is free.
There will be live music and entertainment such as folk dancing, belly dancing and art exhibits. You can purchase ethnic food and drinks such as: Doner Kebap, Adana Kebap, Borek, Baklava, Turkish Coffee and more foods native to the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas. The food is supplied by several popular Turkish restaurants in California. Check out the video on last year's Turkish food and music festival. The annual Turkish food and music festival also is a family event.
There will be many activities for kids such as puppet making, face painting, coloring, folk dancing and games. Since the admission is free, that means you can watch all the entertainment at no admission price to you. If you want to buy food, you purchase what you want from the different food vendors. Meanwhile, you can watch the folkdances, bellydancing performances, or watch the puppet making and games. And it runs all day from 11:00 am.m to 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, August 24th and 25th, 2013.
In Turkey as in Greece, traditional male folkdance presentations are popular at concerts and food festivals. Some of the folkdances imitate harvesting various food items, or in dances from further north closer to the Caucasus, the dances imitate eagles soaring. Check out this Ankara, Turkey generic family-style folkdance video on YouTube known as "Emel Tascioglu Fidayda Ankara."
Sacramento's 50th annual Greek Food Festival
Now for the neighboring Greek Food Festival to be held in Sacramento. It happens on August 30, August 31, and September 1, 2013 at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J Street, in Sacramento. Convenient parking located nearby. The Greek food festival begins on Friday, August 30, 2013. There's free admission from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. After 3:00 p.m. on Friday, there's general admission for kids over age 12 and adults $5.00. And for Saturday and Sunday, the admission also is $5.00 for anyone age 12 and up. But children under 12 are free. The hours of operation of this food festival are:
Friday, August 30, 11:00 am - 11:00 pm. Free Admission on Friday, August 30.
Saturday, August 31, 12:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Sunday, September 1, 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm
If you would like to read more news about the Greek food festival in Sacramento, and see some of the menu items and photos of the foods and revelry from the festival, click here to read the latest Sacramento Greek Food Festival hits from around the media. You can check out this in-depth article, written by Jessica Laskey, featured in all three of the Inside publications: Inside East Sacramento, Inside The City and Inside Arden in the River City Preview section.
Festival opens on Friday, August 30th at 11:00 a.m. and runs to 11:00 p.m. For those of you who work downtown and get a lunch hour, check out the lunch served on Friday, August 30, 2013 beginning at 11:00 a.m. First day attendees get free admission from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 pm. Ask what time after 4:00 p.m. the live music will start on Friday, when regular admission kicks in after 3:00 p.m. The festival continues Saturday, Aug. 31st for a full day from Noon-11:00 p.m. and again on Sunday, September 1st from Noon-10:00 p.m. You can experience the food, take a dance class, or buy various Greek-themed, clothing, jewelry, foods, spices, artwork, religious-themed items, books, gifts, cards, T-shirts, accessories, purses, confections, and other wares from the many vendors at the Sacramento Convention Center.
Reminiscing the Eastern Mediterranean foods of childhood in the 1950s when cultures shared menu items and music with one another
Our neighborhood's early 1950s favorite New York City's childhood Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Sicilian, and Lebanese delicatessen shared music, foods, and decorations, even though the customers had different languages. Also see my other Examiner.com article, A Silk Roads Feast For You. When in season, pomegranate juice sweetened every confection and cup of tea.
The food and music links that brought them together was similar foods, stringed instruments, and family camaraderie. What they also had in common was the foods of both the Eastern and Western Mediterranean areas, from the Spanish rice and seafood to the Eastern Mediterranean stuffed grape leaves. The link? Sicilian rice balls that contained a hint of raisins, cinnamon, and pine nuts, in common with the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea areas that included trays of foods basted with home-made yogurt.
The mainspring of my school friend’s life focused on the red brick Mediterranean grocery and sundries store in the mid-1950s. Everything she ate, wore, and owned came from it. A store like this could be found in almost any large city.
The smell of green peppers hung on a string across the ceiling along with platters of Greek spanakopita (spinach and cheese pastries) and the dry, chipped Armenian style beef called bastoorma.
The scent accompanied that of onions frying in olive oil, filling the dark, wooden interior with an earthiness. Pickled watermelon and strips of fried eggplant lay on the counter top soon to be wrapped and stored in the cooler. The Greek deli featured foods also familiar in Turkey and Armenia. The music, Konyali, shared music from both Greece and the west coast of Turkey.
My delight had been to be sent to the store’s fragrance cellar where Armenian and Greek versions of bread were baked. There's Armenian akmak (cracker bread) or Turkish ekmek (soft bread). The Greek or Cretan pita is flat but leavened, and round and crusty inside. When you bite a hole, the bread opens up into a pocket. Today, you can find online the recipe for Turkish breakfast buns. See Binnur's Turkish Cookbook for the recipe in English.
Another treat is to stuff flat, lightly toasted pocket bread it with healthy greens, tomatoes, feta, and olive-oil drenched sardine balls stewed in tomato sauce with raisins, vinegar, pine nuts, cinnamon, cloves, and saffron. It reminds me of the sweet and sour fennel and fish (sardine balls) feast from that island off the coast of Sicily.
One school friend used to stuff this bread with hot cubes of roast lamb. She would put chunks of peppers and onions in the sandwich and dust the stuffed sandwich with spices such as lemon pepper and thyme, rosemary, sage, and cumin.
The roast lamb had been soaked in vinegar and sugar to make it taste sweet and sour. Over open flames on a charcoal broiler, family members roasted the skewered cubes. Lunch crowds would walk into the store each day to take out the big pocket toasted flat bread full of spice-tendered, marinated lamb cubes.
The cellar had a delicious smell of cinnamon and walnuts. A whiff of pastry from the big ovens, the tang of lemon, the scent of pistachio nuts and saffron or orange blossom water and honey cleared your head.
The immaculately clean dark cellar counter tops smelled of lemon and cold-pressed olive oil. Strains of shared Greek-Turkish-Armenian music wailed delightfully around the corridors of the cellar from an old phonograph. You didn't only listen. You stood up and danced or snapped your fingers to the nuances of wooden spoons clacking in rhythm like castanets.
Our school friend never used canned foods. Everything came in bulk, in big barrels, boxes, or jars
Hand-made coffee grinders turned the beans to the thick, sweet Turkish coffee powder served, when customized to each diner’s order, mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and orange blossom water. A small, long handled bronze-colored pot heated over a single burner soon brought the coffee to a temperature just below the boiling point. When foam appeared on top, a server poured the syrupy-thick, sweet coffee into tiny china demitasse cups and placed them around each table.
Night after night Greek and Armenian men would drop in for a bit of gossip or to settle the world's business affairs. Young and old came often with sleeping infants in their laps, not only men, like in the old countries, but with their wives and extended family members, neighbors, and friends.
A large platter of food arrived. Then the nuances of minor-key music pulled many into a dance, a stroll down memory lane, or laughter. Moods, textures, and tones in that store helped to settle local problems. The scent of freshly baking cinnamon, dried fruit, and walnut bread opened a welcoming door, a center of life for the neighborhood.