Photos and Story by Sergio Pacheco/Contributing Writer
On Sunday, November 3, the annual Thai-Laos Food Fair was hosted at the Wat Amphawan of America, a Buddhist temple located in Murfreesboro.
The event started at 11 a.m. at Barfield Crescent park in Murfreesboro, where people from all over Middle Tennessee showed up. The small price of $15 was all that was needed to try a wide variety of Thai and Laotian cuisine. At the entrance there was a small selection of fresh fruit and vegetables that were being sold separately from the rest of the food vendors. A little further ahead, sheriffs from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department were handing out free water bottles to attendees.
As people walked even further, the smell was was truly overwhelming. Attendees could go to any vendor a try a little bit of everything, but at the price of waiting in line. The first food people tried were pad thai noodles, which was provided by the Love Thai Sushi restaurant. This dish consists of thin stir-fried noodles in sweet and sour sauce, egg bean sprouts, peanuts, and green onions. A side option was a plantain wrapped in banana leaves, which had a bittersweet taste to it. Another food people tried was chicken coconut soup. There wasn’t a vendor that didn’t have a long line.
“I’m looking forward to trying the papaya salad, I heard it’s good. I just hope they don’t run out before I reach the front of the line,” said Chris, who recently moved from Florida to Murfreesboro.
Young children could get a cool face design at Evelyn DeJesus’s booth, who did face paintings. The biggest line by far was to get boba, or bubble tea. The flavors available were strawberry, thai tea and taro. Bubble tea is a Taiwanese based drink and contains milk, chewy tapioca balls, and brewed tea, depending on the flavor.
The brisket and rice vendor had the second biggest line, but it wasn’t served until about 2 p.m. The only reason the lines kept moving was because of how fast and consistent the employees were.
Live music was provided by Jodal Bravo, a rock band based out of Murfreesboro. Later on, the Jodal Bravo band took a break and live traditional music was played. The host, Dalany Vongratsamy, invited the audience to join her in a simple two-step dance. A few women were dressed in traditional Thai clothing called chut thai, which consists of chong kraben, a blouse and a sabai. For the rest of the event, Jodal Bravo continued playing.
“I enjoy events like these because we become exposed to other cultures and customs that we don’t usually encounter or might not know much about, so that’s cool. You also meet a whole lot of new people – sometimes just by standing in line, like I just did a few minutes ago,” said Jesus Ortiz, chemistry major at MTSU.
The family friendly food event brought many communities together and encouraged everyone to try something new and experience cultural diversity. The food festival is used as a fundraiser for the Buddhist temple to keep hosting more cultural events.
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