Good Burmese food is hard to come by in New York, so chowhounds always look forward to the home cooking at the summer fair put on by a Burmese church in Queens. This year’s is August 12. (Read about last year’s fair.) “It’s a great time, and the food is equal to or better than anything I’ve had in Burma,” says el jefe.
Typically there are up to 10 tented booths, each with “a mom or grandmother busy making interesting food,” says MORE KASHA. Few booths, if any, have English signage, though the vendors are unfailingly friendly and helpful in answering questions. They may hold back on spicing for non-Burmese customers, so don’t be afraid to ask for more chiles, lime, and other seasonings. Pay for your food with tickets bought at a table near the entrance. Some things to look for based on last year’s lineup:
– Noodles are likely to appear in various forms. One winner is fish noodle soup–a substantial, intense yellow broth studded with fish cake and thick white noodles.
– Oily, flaky, hearty Burmese-style parathas, filled with mashed yellow beans, fried fresh to order and topped with fried onions.
– Fish salad, also made fresh to order, seasoned with spices and lime.
– Potato samosas, bean fritters, and other fried items, which you can doctor with hot sauce.
– For dessert: colorful, refreshing shaved ice topped with peanuts, dried fruits, and coconut milk. Also, faluda: a hot-pink, berry-flavored cold soup with agar, tapioca balls, vanilla ice cream, and bits of custard. “Surprising and addictive!” marvels Spoony Bard.
– And to take home, an intensely flavored, spicy-nutty condiment–in fish or pork flavors–that goes great with rice.
The event runs from noon to 6, but you don’t want to get there too late. Last year some highly praised bites–including chicken and yellow rice brought from a Burmese church in Boston–sold out early.
Burmese Food Fair–Agust 12