Over the years, immigrants flowing into Maine have brought with them food customs from across the globe. From Chinese spring rolls and dumplings to Argentinian empanadas, these foreign delicacies have greatly enhanced Maine’s traditional New England fare. At the festival’s Foodways Stage on Saturday and Sunday, visitors can watch Hungarian goulash, curried goat and other savory dishes being prepared, pick up recipes, sample the food, and chat with the men and women who make it.
Mohammed S. Dar
Stillwater Convenience, Bangor
Mohammed S. Dar, a native Pakistani, came to the United States in 1983. He first lived in Houston, then Yonkers, N.Y., before settling in Maine in 1997. Dar owns Stillwater Convenience in Bangor, where he and his wife provide an extensive menu of Pakistani meals resembling those his mother used to make: potatoes and peas with curry and rice; cauliflower with ground beef; lentils; and handmade fresh bread. What makes Pakistani food different from American fare? Dar says it’s all in the spices: “It’s cumins and curry powders and biryani powders – all kinds of spices.”
Delia Michaud, Maria Rave
European Farmers Market, Bangor
Delia Michaud grew up in San Juan, Argentina, and came to Maine after meeting her Franco-American husband while working in Houston. Maria Rave, who now lives in Ellsworth with her husband and son, was born in Brazil. The two friends, who may be found serving up Brazilian and Argentinean cuisine every Saturday at the Bangor Farmers Market on Buck Street, say they enjoy sharing their native cuisines with Maine people. They look forward to tempting the palates of an even wider audience at the American Folk Festival. Visitors won’t want to miss sampling traditional South American fare as Michaud and Rave explain the historical significance of foods once eaten by Argentinean cowboys, or gauchos, and Brazilian road builders, or carreteros.
Oriental Jade, Bangor
Lilian Lo and her husband came from Hong Kong to the United States in the late 1970s. For 25 years, they have owned and operated the popular restaurant Oriental Jade in Bangor. On Asian cooking at the Jade, Lo says, “I try to mix my culture with American style.” At the Folk Festival, she and several restaurant assistants will prepare traditional Chinese dishes and describe what makes these foods distinctive from “American Chinese food.” For instance, they will show how a spring roll differs from an egg roll. Lo also will take part in a group discussion about clothing and textiles from around the world on the Folk Traditions Narrative Stage on Saturday, where she will describe traditional Chinese dress.
Aniko Fulep, who lives with her husband and sons in Hampden, grew up in Budapest, Hungary. She enjoys cooking Hungarian meals for her family and friends, and has offered to demonstrate how to prepare several traditional dishes. Many of us are familiar with Hungarian goulash, but according to Fulep, “People in America have very different ideas about what this is.” In Hungary, where it is spelled gulyas, this popular dish consists of a thick soup similar to beef stew, with sliced carrots, parsnips, cubed potatoes and an onion base, and is often served with pasta or pancakes.