Taste of many nations from afar
If it had been a few months later, Saturday night’s Asian feast at Cape Elizabeth’s UMC could have been a delectable celebration of the Chinese New Year.
By the time the evening was over, however, it really didn’t matter what month it was — only that more than 100 people were treated to a smorgasbord of Asian food and culture whose results were educational and sumptuous.
Stephen Bither, who organizes our monthly Bean Suppers, began working with Jo Stewart, a native of Singapore, a few months ago on the idea of the church hosting an Asian Food Festival to celebrate the many contributions people with Asian roots have made to the Cape Elizabeth community.
The plan blossomed and Saturday night’s festival was a tribute to the many hours of creative thinking and hard work by Stephen, the entire Stewart family — Jo, Tim, Melissa and Preston — and many others from the church and community who made this event possible.
Another ingredient to the success of the Asian Festival came from the Mittapheap World Market on Washington Ave. in Portland. Owners Makara Meng and Paul Pen donated $250 worth of fruits and vegetables for Jo Stewart and her family to use while preparing dishes for the festival.
While Jo Stewart and her family, along with many assistants from the congregation, prepared a majority of the food, Viveca Kwan contributed one of the main dishes, Jim Hewes brought plates of sushi, and one of Stephen’s friends, Bun Perez, provided dishes of lo mein.
As with most Asian cuisine, there were detailed preparations throughout Friday and Saturday, leading up to the presentation and serving on Saturday evening. Unlike the monthly Bean Suppers at which people come and go during the 90 minutes meals are served, the Asian Food Festival had one seating at 5:30 p.m. By 5:15, the church parking lot was almost full and a line waiting to enter Fellowship Hall snaked down the back hallway, past the chapel, to the back door.
The festivities began with a procession of Prosperity Salad platters delivered from the kitchen to each of the tables where people were seated. Tim Stewart then delivered a detailed explanation of the many items on the platters — including gingered and pickled items, shreds of carrot and radishes and crispy chips — and how they were to be eaten. The eating began after everyone was instructed to lean over the platters and toss all of the items together with chop sticks.
After the Prosperity Salad platters were cleared, the serious eating began with everyone filling plates from the serving line while listening to a description of the many Asian dishes and taking in the unique smells of combinations of foods, spices and herbs we often don’t see or have the opportunity to taste.
Among the drinks offered was chrysanthemum tea, and the dessert table included a variety of fresh fruit and bowls of lychee.
For all who attended, and those who served, it was a festive evening and a memorable event to tuck away with experiences that are truly unique.
Thank you Stephen, Joe, Tim, Melissa, Preston and the many others who made this evening at the CEUMC a special one, including owners of the Mittapheap World Market in Portland.
Click here for more images of the Asian Food Festival:
Categories: Fun Stuff