Shortly after I graduated from college I paid a visit to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I was blown away by how underwhelmed I was. It seems like if you’re going to have an NFL team, your town should be a happening metropolis. And the Green Bay Packers are nothing to scoff at; they’re steeped in tradition. But Green Bay, Wisconsin is about the same size as Hayward, California, which is pretty middling for California. But here’s the kicker: Green Bay and Hayward are, population-wise, about the same as Samoa.
Phil likes to point out how small the country is simply in terms of degrees of separation. Whereas it’s probably possible to connect to anyone in the world in 6, in Samoa, I’d assume you can get from anyone to anyone else in less than 3. Everyone knows everyone else—much like an American suburb. I bring up all this because Samoa’s tininess makes events like yesterday’s International Food Festival at the Hotel Insel so fun: everyone knows everyone.
I hadn’t heard about the festival until I was in the car en route. Rotaract had a Battle of the Minds taping yesterday morning, and a bunch of us piled in the car afterwards, I assumed to be dropped off at home. But we didn’t go home. We went the International Food Festival.
The event was small, but there was an impressive array of countries and cuisines represented, and all were quite tasty. The Indian Food tent had a deal offering 2 curries, rice, and buttered roti for $6, which offered the most food for the least amount of money. But there was also Italian, Filipino, German, Fijian, Hawaiian (yes, not a country. I know.), and Samoan booths.
As good as the food was—and the food was good, I ate at 4 booths over the course of the day—it was the startling cross-section of people that I enjoyed most about the day. I ran into a bunch of families I normally only see at mass on Sunday. I saw the lady who runs my favorite restaurant in Samoa, The Curry House, enjoying the afternoon with her family as a patron, not a vendor. “Funny seeing you on this side of the counter,” I told her. She laughed and told me I needed to try the tiramisu she ordered. Done and done.
I spent most of the day hanging out in the car park with the Rotaract kids, but when they announced a fashion show was about to be held on the events stage, we got up to watch. As it turned out, two of my friends, Aina and Esther, were models.
In the car on the way there, I assumed we’d check out this festival and leave after an hour or two. As it turned out, we were there for nine hours. Hanging out, shooting the breeze, drinking cheap imported beer, eating a myriad of ethnic cuisine. At one point I heard tinikling (sp?) in the distance, which was so Union City, I went and bought a plate of adobo, rice, and two lumpia. Apparently the lumpia was extremely popular and sold out in 20 minutes.
In any case, I was blind-sided by the event, but happily so. And everyone I know was there to celebrate with me.
I hope you’re well. Unfortunately my camera’s battery died yesterday morning, so I have no photos of the event. I very disappointed about this. Apologies.
1 week ago