Published On: Sat, Jun 17th, 2017

Food Festival, Butterfly Garden, Sculpture Garden To Start Off Summer Break

With the heat index breaking into the 90s [humidity sucks] and a threat of a thunderstorm, we decided to head out to the Around The World Cultural Food Festival anyway.  We parked somewhere in Penn Quarter and walked to the National Mall, cutting through Moynihan Plaza.  The area has a bit of a European feel to it, the cobblestone, stone structures, the whole feel of it.  Sometimes just walking to an event through DC is an event in itself.

Alani and Najwa at Moynihan Plaza
Najwa and her friend Alani at Moynihan plaza behind the Ronald Reagan Building.
Alani and Najwa at Moynihan Plaza
Nduku and Najwa at Moynihan Plaza

The festival is not much more than a bunch of booths lined up next to each other with different cuisines.  This year, though, they did put up a stage for the performances.  We would check that out after we got some food.

The booths had little flags of the different countries this time, making it easier to figure out what was at each booth compared to last year.  That is, if you knew all the flags.  From a distance, to someone like me who doesn’t make studying flags a hobby, the flags of Columbia, Hungary, Italy, Ivory Coast and Romania start to look the same.

What is the festival about?

Around the World Cultural Food Festival brings together diverse, authentic, living traditions from different countries around the world. Our mission is to preserve and strengthen the culture of each country while presenting it to the public throughout the course of this event and give all the participants a chance to learn from one another and understand the cultural differences and similarities.

Around the World Cultural Food Festival - Washington DC- 2017
Cooking demonstration by the Thai.

We started safe with bul gogi from my people, the Koreans.  Well, with egg rolls from the Chinese.  Good food.  A bit pricey, but I guess you’re paying for the atmosphere, if you can call 90+ degree heat with very little shade atmosphere.  Because there were 35+ countries, we grabbed another plate, this time a mixed platter from the Brazilians.

Najwa and Alani were either not very hungry or didn’t see anything they liked so they settled for ice cream.

We hung out a bit, the kids doing cartwheels and tag, coping with the heat.  Fortunately there was a bit of a breeze that helped some.  I wanted to go extra exotic and taste something from Barbados or Serbia, but didn’t have the room for it.  Or the money.  But eventually, we headed towards to stage to see what was going on there.

The stage across the street from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I’m not sure where these performers were from, but they had some crowd participation going on.  I guess this was a traditional dance, where the adults lined up across from each other and danced [more like skipped] towards each other, then back away from each other. Before they started dancing towards each other again, the kids had to run through without getting caught in all that dancing [skipping].

The kids getting instructions on what to do but all they were wondering was what he meant by getting squished.
Around the World Cultural Food Festival - Washington DC- 2017

We only stuck around for a couple more performances.  These were Indonesians doing traditional [or at least cultural] dances. One group was from Bali; the other from Java.

Indonesia Performers

Afterwards, we took the scenic way back to the car, taking the National Mall route.  Along the way are these signs about the landscaping, the way it was designed to accommodate and support the native wildlife, as in, the birds, butterflies and bees.  Hidden in the bushes was also remnant of a triceratops.

Native birds of Washington DC

Running parallel to the 9th Street Expressway is a Habitat Garden that we never knew was there.  It’s a scenic and aromatic walk with lots of flowers, attracting the native wildlife.  There were these storyboards explaining pollination, pollinators and how we can help encourage and sustain the native animals.

Smithsonian Gardens Butterfly Habitat
Smithsonian Gardens Butterfly Habitat
Smithsonian Gardens Butterfly Habitat
Smithsonian Gardens Butterfly Habitat
Smithsonian Gardens Butterfly Habitat
Smithsonian Gardens Butterfly Habitat

Our trip to the National Mall ended at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Last time we were here was when grandpa was in town. It’s a chill place to just relax, get your feet wet and cool off from the heat.

But first, more junk food from the Pavilion Cafe.

Pavilion Cafe
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Najwa and Alani at National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Najwa and Alani at National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Najwa and Alani at National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

And then, we headed back to the car, to the house, and to the basement where Najwa and Alani played Just Dance and Minecraft, non-stop, almost until 9:00 pm!  I was waiting for them to run out of gas at some point, with the heat draining our energy and stomachs full, but they kept it going until the bitter end.

Good thing they get along considering they’ll be spending all summer together for summer camp at North Michigan Park Recreation Center.  A good start to what’s going to be a long summer.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.



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