The four of us went to VEISHEA‘s Cultural Festival and International Food Fair last week. It’s a good way to taste the globe in one day, without actually traveling. The admission was $3 per person or $8 per family plus 50 cents per food ticket. Most of the entree cost 4-5 tickets, while an appetizer or dessert is about 3, and the drink is 2. Hosted at the South Ballroom of Memorial Union, visitors need to pay the admission fee at the door. The food tickets were sold both outside and inside, and we purchased $20 worth of tickets.
Countries representated were Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Japan, Brazil-Portuguese, Nepal, Chinese, Puerto Rico, Latin American, Egypt, Other African, Sri Lanka, Russia, and Argentina-Uruguay-Chile. Each country had a ‘booth’ and at least two items to sell. It’s a buffet style, so we got the food fairly quickly. The eating area’s big and nice, with a huge screen to display various video clips from each countries.
Even though the claim was to “Experienced food from around the world excellently prepared by International Student Council”, I knew better not to put our hopes high. Even though our little town has a lot of international restaurants with good food, doesn’t mean the international students could cook as good.
And I was right, unfortunately, starting off with Indonesia. Being an Indonesian myself, I was disappointed to find out that their only two dishes are not ‘presentable’. Their chiken rendang very soupy, almost like a lontong sayur, I thought it supposed to be like this. While their macaroni schotel was very dry and too salty. On the hand out flyers, the macaroni schotel cost 4 tickets, but one of the Indonesian girls told us it cost 8 tickets! Hubby told her, “I’m sorry but the flyer said it only cost 4 tickets.” The girl said while laughing weakly, “Oh. Yeah. Sorry.” Hubby looked at me with eyebrows raised and I gave him the same ‘lool’. As we were walking away, he asked me, “What’s up with that? The Indonesian girl tried to rip me off?” I said, “She better not. Maybe she got the wrong info or something.”
Our favorites was the Koshary, an Egyptian dish which is a mix of pasta, rice, lentil, chick peas, onion, garlic, and some chili sauce. This may sound horrible, but it was delicious. My son Dante was eating it like crazy, he went for second, even. Indian’s tandoori chicken was always good, a bit too spicy but not bad. Like the Argentinian empanadas, unhappy with the Chinese hot pot. Satisfied with the Egyptian hibiscus tea and Puerto Rican fruit punch, astounded by Indian’s Rooh afza or rose syrup. Delighted by Russian torta de bolacha, intrigued by Brazilian pastel de forno.
As we were getting full, I saw somebody had a plate of something which looked very familiar to me. “Hey… it’s klepon!” I shrieked. My daughter looked at me, “It’s a what pound?” I grabbed her hand and said, “No, no. Not what pound. Klepon. It’s an Indonesian dessert. Funny, I didn’t see that at the Indonesian booth.”
So we walked around to find where this is sold. Amazingly, it was at the Malaysian Student Association’s booth. Except, they called it Onde Onde, although it looks as green as Indonesian klepon, also with dried coconut shred on it. How bizarre. Davi was in line and a guy asked her, “What would you like to get?” Davi pointed at the klepon (or Onde Onde, I should say, because it’s their version). The other guy then said, “Oh, the Onde Onde! Good for you. It’s truly Malaysian.”
[Click on the picture to get a better view]
‘scuse me? Truly Malaysian? Not entirely true. Because that is also our (Indonesian) klepon. And I will be adamant about my klepon. Don’t be ignorant. Just like they’re claiming that Rasa Sayange folk song, the island of Bintan, wayang, and angklung is theirs. OK, maybe this klepon vs onde onde thing is not as harsh as the previous clash. And maybe they’re just ignorant students who don’t have a clue that their neighboring country has something similar. I sure hope this is the case. Because I’m getting tired of Malaysia’s claiming everything that is not necessarily our, but we have it too, as their only.