Tuesday, June 9, 2015

on the bewildered and stationary Czechs

Africans getting down
I know what regular readers are thinking. "This guy moves to Czech Republic, and now he only writes about Africa!" First Morocco, and now African culture "events" everywhere in Prague. I can't help it, my friends! The African Food Festival was held on Saturday, May 16 at Dejvicka, and my mouth was just watering for something spicey. One can only have so much of meat baked in creamy stuff, i.e. standard Czech food. I also was happy to attend the Africa Day fest as I love African food - most American "Southern" foods have their roots in Africa, like hot sauce, black eyed peas and Popeye's chicken - I didn't know how wonderful of a festival it could be, especially with the focus on the Islamic countries of Africa - and these days, nobody's big on Islamic countries of anywhere. It says something, or perhaps nothing, that the best PR skill promoting Islam is coming from the Islamic State, and isn't necessarily lost on Europeans.

Though the organizers pushed it as an Africa Day for Islamic countries, people from many non-Islamic countries of Africa turned up to represent themselves as well. Notably Ghana, Congo, and South Africa (who brought with them a large selection of wine). The Congo table probably had the best food, providing super hot sauce, some shish kebab, and some deep fried balls of awesome - similar to American fried corn bread balls. Except for the South Africa table, drinks were somewhat lacking, since Muslims don't typically drink alcohol. Luckily, it was adjacent to the Dejvicka Farmer's Market, which is something of a festival in and of itself, so most people simply meandered over there for some craft beer.

Africa Day at the Dejvicka market
The Dejvicka Farmer's Market goes on every Saturday morning. Not only are fresh fruits and vegetables brought in from the private farms through the Czech Republic, but also there are many food stands, serving up fresh hamburgers, hot dogs, and various ethnic foods like sausage and meat wrapped in meat stuffed with meat (my favorite Czech dish). There are also typically one or two microbrews with a stand there, so you can try out what you otherwise would be unable to find in most bars and also enjoy some day drinking out in the park under the sun. 

Also at the African Day Festival was a great deal of live music, which is something that's often tragically missing from the Farmer's Markets in Prague. It's something small but something that could certainly add a lot. For the part that I was there, there were about 3 or 4 guys on djembes - tall drums played sitting down - and a cajone - a box you sit on top of and tap out the beat. Also there were some guys with shakers and cow bells, adding ever increasing rhythmic complexity that African music is known for - not to generalize, as there is a huge diversity of musical styles and rhythms throughout the continent. In front of the musicians were Africans getting down to the music. One guy with his hands up, feeling the groove, kicking around, while several big bootied women floated around, shaking their junk. There was no theme or organization in the dancing, and I think they were just some excited folk who were hoping to get the otherwise bewildered and stationary Czechs into their groove. The Czechs, for their part, seemed interested in the happenings, but continued sipping their beers and watching - the same as I was doing.

Overall, it was a pretty positive event, and I was happy to get my spicy sauce and fried ball stuff on. And I was even happier when the Egyptians started giving out their cheese and meat fried dumplings for free. Because I'm always happy about free stuff.

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