18 February 2023

What's on the menu at the National Multicultural Festival?

| Lucy Ridge
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Two men holding African food

Try beignets, African style doughnuts, at the National Multicultural festival 2023. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Some call it the ‘meat on a stick festival’, but there’s more than just chicken skewers on offer at the 25th Multicultural Festival.

After a two-year hiatus, the ‘multiculti’ has returned to expand our horizons and tickle our tastebuds. With stalls stretching from Garema Place to Glebe Park and eight different stages, there’s plenty of space to enjoy the packed program of performances, workshops and taste the foods on offer.

As the official festival ‘do’s and don’ts’ checklist helpfully suggests: DO bring your appetite and DON’T wear a white shirt because food stains are almost guaranteed.

City Walk has been left clear for people to sit and relax and you’ll find the food stalls clustered in separate hubs. Grab a map and a program from a volunteer in green and go exploring. Most stalls will accept cards, but a few are cash only, so make sure you come prepared.

Stay sticks on a grill

There are plenty of ‘meat on a stick’ options at the multiculti and many vegetarian options too. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

There’s an official ‘multiculti bingo card’ on the ACT Government website, but foodies might like to make their own personal checklist. You could try to find food from as many countries as possible or work your way through the alphabet.

Skip the chips on a stick and challenge your friends to find an ingredient they’ve never tasted before or try a different cuisine: it might just become a new favourite. If you’ve never tasted beignets (African doughnuts) or cannoli (Sicilian pastries filled with cream), then make sure you give them a try this weekend!

Support some local Canberra businesses set up for the festival and grab some tasty, properly authentic Mexican tacos from Jarochos, or grab some Filipino chicken skewers fresh off the barbecue at Papa J’s. As well as the hospitality professionals, there are plenty of stalls run by community volunteers, so remember to be patient and kind if you need to wait in a queue.

Oscar’s Bakery has perfectly refreshing iced lemonade and Turkish burek pastries: the spinach and three cheese is a great vegetarian option! And they’re even donating a portion of sales towards earthquake relief so you can eat your fill and feel good about where your dollars are going.

There will be road closures and reduced parking in the centre of the city so organisers recommend leaving your car at home and catching public transport into the festival … which is the perfect excuse to try a brew (or two)!

Taste a sneak preview of Canberra’s next brewery, Cypher Brewing Co, which will open soon in Gungahlin. A glass of their Exhale XPA will have you breathing a sigh of relief in the hot weather, but don’t forget to stay hydrated! Bring a reusable drink bottle and refill at the water stations.

For the first time the festival will also run a dedicated program of cooking demonstrations with over 15 community and professional chefs showcasing dishes from their national cuisines. Learn how to make paella, green curry, or dumplings at home and you can have a taste of the multiculti all-year round.

The National Multicultural Festival runs from 2 pm to 11 pm on Friday, 17 February; 10 am to 11 pm, Saturday, 18 February; and from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday, 19 February, in the centre of Civic.

More information, including road closures and changes to parking, can be found on the ACT Government website.

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As someone who enjoyed ‘The Sopranos’, I was never sure about ‘cannoli’.

Now I know…

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