Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Favorite Yearly Respite from Bad News

The Greeks participated in a band with the Turks and Armenians. The Pakistanis, Indians, and Bangladeshis helped each other out. The Czechs and Slovaks could be seen cooperating…You probably want whatever I was on while seeing all that, but honestly, I was cold sober. All that and more could be seen at the 23rd annual Skokie Festival of Cultures.

The Village of Skokie, Skokie Public Library, and Skokie Park District initiated the Skokie Festival of Cultures in 1991 to celebrate the village’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Situated just outside Chicago and accessible by public transportation, it has become home to many immigrant groups over the last 30 years. In the first Festival of Cultures, nine nationality groups participated. That has increased steadily. This year 36 nationality groups participated. Since over 70 languages are spoken in Skokie, there’s room for people from many more countries.

Flags of the participating countries 
In opening ceremonies, participants from all 36 groups walk across the main stage wearing their national costumes. They each said “hello” and then thanked the first responders in both English and their native languages while the soundtrack of “Imagine” by John Lennon played in the background. For a ‘60’s activist like myself, it doesn’t get better than that. Although we have light years to go before we truly overcome all the intra-ethnic hatred that rages throughout our own country and the world, the Festival of Cultures transmits the hope, even if only momentarily, that it may be possible.

After we saw people introduce themselves from everywhere from Armenia to the United States, we visited the national booths talking to people, viewing their handicrafts, and sampling some cuisines. Some people encouraged us to visit their countries of origin or at least see their museums in Chicago. Where else can one meet people from Armenia, Bangladesh, Croatia, Germany, Greece, South America, Sweden, Thailand, and Turkey within an hour?
Tibetan dancers

We heard music and saw dance performed by a group from Tibet and then went inside to see yes, a combined Greek-Turkish-Egyptian-Armenian band. It was beautiful. After a few hours, there were still more songs and dances to hear and see and more people to meet at the booths, but alas, it was time to go home. Next year     we’ll do it again.

Such an international event calls for an international recipe. One year, at the Filipino booth, they gave out this recipe for Chicken Adobo. It sounds easy and delicious.                                       

Chicken Adobo

1 pound of chicken cut in pieces
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup vinegar
2 cups of water
5 bay leaves
4 Tablespoons of cooking oil
whole peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in a pot. Let it simmer and boil until almost all the water is gone. Let the meat fry in its own fat or added oil. Good served with rice and fresh tomatoes.   










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