Maine boasts a rich cultural heritage reflected in its food, ranging from the savory buckwheat pancakes, or ployes, prepared in the St. John Valley to the delicate lobster stews served up at churches and Grange halls along the Maine coast. The Pine Tree State’s ethnic population also is diversifying and a greater variety of food is available. Maine chefs and residents will show off those traditions from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Foodways stage in the folk and traditional arts area.
Hulled Corn Soup
Molly Neptune Parker,
Indian Township, Maine
Passamaquoddy basket maker Molly Neptune Parker runs a restaurant in her hometown of Princeton. Neptune learned basket making as a child from her mother and continues the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s fancy basket tradition at her home on the shores of Lewey Lake in Indian Township.
Fatima Munson, Orono, Maine
The spices that brighten Fatima Munson’s dishes are as vibrant as the landscape of her native Morocco. The Orono resident runs a small takeout restaurant called Fatima’s Baraka, a Moroccan word that translates as “blessing.” Munson will share that blessing with audiences at the National Folk Festival when she prepares a Vegetarian Tagine, a traditional stew that combines chickpeas, carrots, prunes, raisins and spices in a meal that balances sweet and savory flavors.
Stewed Pink Beans and Rice-Pigeon Pea Stew
Maria Baeza and Maria Leyro, Newburgh, Maine
After their marriages, both Maria Baeza and Maria Leyro found that cooking for their families was much harder than they expected, so they asked their parents for help. This gave them a chance to return to their Puerto Rican culinary roots. After mastering the art of cooking at home, Leyro opened a restaurant, but she found cooking was more fun as a hobby than as a business. At the Folk Festival, Baeza and Leyro will show audiences how to prepare two classic Puerto Rican dishes: Habichuelas Rosadas Guisadas, or Stewed Pink Beans, and Arroz con Gandules, a dish that combines pigeon peas, rice, meat and spices.
Vietnamese Stir-fry with String Beans
Bich Nga Burrill,
Though Bich Nga Burrill fled Vietnam nearly 30 years ago, a week before the fall of Saigon, the cuisine of her native country has proved to be a visceral link to her heritage. Today, Burrill runs a catering business and sells freshly prepared Vietnamese dishes at several farmers markets. She grows all of her own produce and uses the freshest ingredients when preparing her spicy stir-fries and savory spring rolls. She recently finished a memoir that combines recipes with vignettes about her family and her homeland. Burrill will demonstrate how to make quick, light, healthful meals with a Vietnamese flair.
Yellow-Eye Pea Soup
Michael Corbin, Madawaska, Maine
Michael Corbin grew up in Grand Isle, Maine, where he learned from his mother and grandmother how to cook traditional Acadian recipes. After working in various industries, Corbin opened a small cafe as a hobby. It soon grew into Cafe de la Place in Madawaska, and his hobby has become a full-time endeavor. At this year’s Folk Festival, Corbin will demonstrate how to make the cafe’s popular Yellow-Eye Pea Soup, a variation on a family recipe.
Jim Cunningham, Searsport, Maine
Though “Bean-hole bean Jim” Cunningham spent time at a lumber camp as a boy, he didn’t learn his secret recipe for traditional Bean-Hole Beans until he was an adult. One of his neighbors in Searsport taught him this slow-cooking method, which he has put to good use at area fund-raisers and Scouting events. Cunningham is a Registered Maine Guide, and has served as a Boy Scout leader for more than 20 years. Of the beans, he says, “It’s all about flavor.”
Samos and Bajiya
Fatuma Hussein, Old Orchard, Maine
Dona Adam, Lewiston, Maine
Originally from Somalia, Fatuma Hussein and Dona Adam moved to Maine from Atlanta, Georgia in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Although Somalian, they had lived in Upanga, Kenya before immigrating to the United States. Once in Maine, the two women founded the organization, United Somali Women, which is an advocacy group that assists the African community in the Lewiston-Auburn area with employment, education and culture. Adam is a full-time student at the University of Southern Maine and Hussein heads the United Somali Women organization. They will be cooking two Somali dishes, on Saturday and Sunday.