(This post features Carnaval San Francisco, 2015 held on 23rd and 24th May)
Carnaval San Francisco is a celebration of diverse cultures through a two-day long festival that showcases art, music and dance of multicultural communities that represent cultural heritages of Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Cuba and more. As a matter of fact, it is the largest celebration of it’s kind in the West Coast.
The Carnaval had first started in 1979 and represented all the “Latin American culture and the talents of Mission District residents in an atmosphere of harmony and revelry”. This year was the 37th Carnaval which featured 56 contingents of community arts and schools.
This year’s theme was Agua Sagrada, Spanish for ‘sacred water’ denoting the universal reverence to the most basic and essential element of life – water. California is currently undergoing a period of drought and this year is predicted to be the driest in history. With this essential element in short supply in this state, the theme of the Carnaval was woven around it.
This was AB and my second trip to Carnaval San Francisco and it does not cease to impress! Both of us are enjoy diverse experiences, especially when it comes to places, cultures and food. Therefore, Memorial Day Sunday was spent in San Francisco’s Mission District (mostly) viewing, photographing the parade and ‘wow’-ing at the colors and vibrancy of the costumes and float decorations.
Then comes the food, the main part for us (for any Bengali and Most human beings, for that matter!)
There were choices galore with Corn on the Cob, Garlic fries, Fried Catfish and Calamari, Mango on a Stick, Fresh Fruits, Chinese – shrimp fried rice, barbecued chicken etc, soft pretzels and more.
Keeping with the multicultural characteristic of the festival, there were a lot of Latin American food like empanadas, tamales – savory and sweet, ceviche, modern salvadorean cuisine, puerto rican food, tacos and more. Everyone was spoilt for choice!
Now let’s take a look at what we’ve got here..
Gerard’s Paella – this stall had the most amount of crowd. Literally most people had a plate full of steaming hot paella. Paella is popularly known as the nation food of Spain which is a rice based dish made with seafood, snails, clams, meat, beans using parsley, saffron, rosemary for flavoring.
This was the highlight! Mango on a Stick. We found only one stall selling this. We walked back 2 miles Just for this! Should be renamed ‘Heaven on a Stick’. (For those you know ‘langda’ mangoes, these taste just like them!)
These were snippets of the parade and mainly the food. If you do visit San Francisco or the nearby area around this time of the year, do go to Carnaval San Francisco. See different cultures, their art forms, taste their food and have a weekend full of fun!