The Jewish Food Festival is returning to the River Market Pavilion this Sunday, May 6, and if the food is anywhere near as delicious as it was last year, we're all in for a treat. The festival kicks off with a Jewish breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and will continue through 4 p.m. In addition to the wide variety of food from different aspects of Jewish culture, the Jewish Federation of Arkansas will also have music from the B Flats, The Klezmer Band, and Shechinotes, as well as booths that will showcase "various aspects of Jewish life from Arkansas to ancient Israel."
Having attended last year's festival, I can vouch for the excellence of the food. Personal favorites from the 2011 festival included latkes (seasoned crisp potato pancakes), chopped liver and cabbage rolls stuffed with beef and rice. Fans of great falafel and kabobs are in luck, too, as the smell of frying chickpeas and roasted meat will have your mouth watering almost as soon as you enter the pavilion. Foods from both the Middle Eastern and European Jewish traditions are well-represented at the festival, and the folks serving up the tastiness are more than willing to talk to you about what this food means to them and to their culture.
As good as all that sounds, though, the highlight of the festival is the baked goods area. Fruit- and nut-filled rugelach, chewy macaroons, apple cakes and an assortment of other baked goods are piled high in decadent and tantalizing heaps on table after table. Be sure not to miss the babka, a Russian coffee cake that I admit to eating in its entirety before I even made it home from last year's event. If bread is the staff of life, then the bakers at this festival know what good living is all about.
This is one of my favorite cultural events held in the city every year and also one of the most delicious. Admission is free, and tickets may be purchased on-site to trade for the tasty stuff.