I was not going to pass up the opportunity to compare Armenian and Greek food when I learned that the 2017 Armenian Food Festival was going to be held at the new Greek Orthodox Church Event Center and Hall on Alhambra Boulevard across from McKinley Park.
It was just recently that a friend and I attended the Sacramento Greek Festival. See related post: Greek Festival Returns to East Sac
The event was the 70th Armenian Food Festival held by the St. James Armenian Church – a one-day celebration of traditional Armenian foods, music, and dancing.
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According to the festival website Armenians have lived in Sacramento since 1919 when the first residents – fleeing the 1915 Genocide – arrived. About 25,000 Armenian families live in the greater Sacramento community.
Like the Greek Festival, admission to the Armenian Food Festival was $5 (free to children under 12). A smaller event, the Armenian Food Festival was held indoors in the event center and hall.
I had decided to walk over to the Armenian Food Festival in the early afternoon and have lunch prior to attending another event later that afternoon. Upon entering I received a hand stamp – allowing me to leave and return again later in the day.
The event center and hall was set up with a stage, dessert station, and a food station with main dishes, side dishes, and salads. Round tables provided attendees with a place to sit and socialize.
I joined the food line – which was not very long at that point in time. Everything looked very good, and I thought that the prices were very reasonable.
In addition to various types of Kebabs (lamb, pork, chicken), other interesting choices included a Lamb Hamburger and an Armenian pizza with meat topping.
For lunch I decided to order the Kufta (lamb and beef meatball) ($4) as the main dish. The Kufta was huge – and very tasty.
I also chose two side dishes – Yalanchi (tzitayoughov derevi patoog) (rice stuffed grapeleaves, cold) ($1) and Cheese Boureg (baneerov khumoreghen) (Filo filled with cheese) ($2). At the last minute I added an order of pita bread ($1).
I was tempted to add a Eetch/Taboule salad (cracked wheat & parsley salad), but instead decided to check out the dessert station.
I had avoided going to the dessert station at the Greek Festival as I knew they were out of Baklava, but I knew that the Armenians make a similar pastry – Paklava (Filo layered with nuts).
The major difference between Baklava and Paklava (based on my one experience) seems to be that Paklava is not totally drenched with a honey infused sweet syrup – thus it is lighter and flakier. Baklava is extremely sweet – so a tiny piece satisfies. The Paklava ($3) pastry served me was good-sized and while sweet – it was not overly sweet.
I also ordered (to take home) a Gatah ($2) (sweetbread with nuts and cinnamon). My ethnic background on my father’s side is Polish – and while the Gatah did not take the same form – the taste very much reminded me of the nut rolls that were a favorite treat at the holidays during my childhood.
When I left the Armenian Food Festival I fully intended to return later that day to observe the dancing and listen to more Armenian music (which is based on un-tempered scales instead of octaves – featuring unusual rhythms) but it was not to be.
Hopefully the Armenian Food Festival will be again be held at the same location next year so I can return to sample additional Armenian foods and learn more about the Armenian culture.
Comments on the Armenian Food Festival?
Did you attend the Armenian Food Festival? Any comments or observations you would add?
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