Richmond will have an international flavor this month and next — coming food festivals will offer your taste buds options from an exotic variety of cultures such as Lebanon, Greece, Asia and well, Richmond.
"The more knowledge people have about [a] culture, the better we can get along," says Rumy Mohta, chairman of the Asian American Society of Central Virginia's executive board. And you can't fully experience a culture without sampling its cuisine and hearing its music. On May 8, the society's 13th annual Asian American Celebration will showcase food from 15 different Asian communities, along with displays of Asian art and a televised cooking competition featuring teams performing in front of judges, audience members and WTVR/CBS 6 cameras. Held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. As befits its "Sounds of Asia" theme, the event will feature musical performances using instruments from countries such as India and Pakistan. For more information, call 245-4974 or visit aasocv.org.
From May 14 to 16, Richmonders will be able to taste Middle Eastern cuisine during the 26th annual Lebanese Food Festival at St. Anthony's Maronite Catholic Church in Glen Allen (4611 Sadler Road, 270-7234). The menu includes lamb, kabobs, stuffed cabbage, falafel, tabbouleh and baklava, many of which include traditional Lebanese flavors such as lemon, allspice and mint. Church members will have made more than 20,000 meat and spinach pies by the festival's start. "Most people wouldn't make eggplant dip," says Theresa Shibley, explaining how Lebanese food is different from other types. "It's got sesame-seed paste and eggplant, puréed into a dip. That's our baba ghannoush." Live music and dancing are scheduled throughout the event, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit stanthonymaronitechurch.org.
Next month, the 34th annual Richmond Greek Festival hosted by Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral (30 Malvern Ave., 355-3687) returns for a weekend of Greek food, music and dancing from June 3 to 6. Also on June 6, Broad Appétit (sponsored in part by Richmond magazine) will highlight dozens of Richmond's restaurants, produce growers and cookbook authors, all set up in booths downtown on Broad Street. For details, visit broadappetit.com or e-mail email@example.com.