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Monday, February 22, 2010

Asian Festival 2010

Every year the Institute of Texan Cultures, located here in San Antonio puts together an Asian Festival.  The Asian Festival brings together organizations rich in Eastern culture, showcasing their respective cultures with an educational and entertaining approach. The event includes martial arts demonstrations, botanicals and mouthwatering cuisine from more than a dozen Far Eastern countries – such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Filipino, and Polynesian. Dance groups perform to entertain visitors, while cooking demonstrations tease your taste buds. Activities for the younger visitors include making paper lanterns, origami, and a beginner’s course to martial arts. From songs and dances to bonsai and Ikebana, from jujitsu and tai chi to chopsticks and origami, visitors have a special opportunity to learn the "how and why" of many age-old customs, and thus gain a greater appreciation of them and of those who practice them.

Kim first turned me on to the idea of going the the festival a couple of weeks ago, and even though the girls were a little dubious as to what their level of enjoyment would be, I drove us there, and in we went. 

Entering through the back entrance, we saw many tables and booths offering many different foods, from egg rolls, to curry rice, pancit with meat and vegetables, and chicken adobo with rice, even fortune cookies.  The girls were really only interested in getting their faces painted, which was funny to see, but the end result was not that bad.

I enjoyed a Samosa made by the Pakistani delegation, and the girls tried a Chicken bowl and a Beef bowl served by the San Antonio Lion Dancers.  While everyone else was trying their bowls, I went off in search of something different, and after making the circuit of booths and finding a bubble tea, I ended up following my nose and finding some yakisoba being cooked and served by the Japan America Society of San Antonio.  I was glad to have found it, as I was actually leaning towards getting some sushi from the Sushi Zushi stand.  Note to selves: Don’t go for the food, unless you are willing to go out for lunch afterwards.  While some of it was good, much of it was not.  It was fun watching the groups work with their outdoor wok set-ups, and their cooking assemblies had me wishing I had something that cool for my back yard.  The girls were really only interested in getting their faces painted, which was funny to see, but the end result was not that bad.  

We got to see (and hear) the San Antonio Chinese Alliance Chinese Chorus and Orchestra perform traditional folk tunes, as well as enjoy the Natyanjali Dances of India.  There was also a demonstration of the Polynesian drums and Fire Dancing, which the girls got a kick out of.

After eating, we decided to explore the grounds and we saw booths with people hawking their wares, and there were some really cool traditional outfits with striking colors that were being sold.  (We were waylaid by a young lady who wanted to know what Madi’s age was, because she had a niece about the same age, and she wanted to make sure that the kimono she picked out would be the right size.  I have to say that if we had purchased the kimono for Madi, she would have looked ADORABLE in it.)  My favorite was a black jacket that was made of real silk, with a Blue Dragon embroidered on it. 

It was a fun event, and we strolled out just as it got cold.  I am not sure if it is an event that we would go to every year, but it is definitely worthwhile if we want the kids to have more of an exposure to the Asian culture. 

From a personal standpoint, I enjoyed the simple fact that there were so many other people here in San Antonio that wanted the same exposure to the cultures of Asia that I wanted our kids to have.  The ode to the Tiger, given the particular zodiac symbol, was apparent, as there were inflatable tigers’ heads, tiger face painting, and tiger hats aplenty.  Kids were walking around dressed in the same patterned blouses, or in the same Cheongsam dress, and men were walking around in their dragon jackets and long gowns.  One could only wish that this type of culture was more prevalent, and that it didn’t take a huge ado of creating a festival to bring all of this together.

I am curious to see what the next year’s festival brings…

Until then, Good Eating, Friends…

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