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Events & Festivals

SEAsian Water Festival in Lowell

Edokko | Aug 16, 201505:04 PM     6

Any other CHers go to the Water Festival yesterday? It was my first time, and I was impressed by the vibrancy of the SEAsian community there. Quite a long stretch of the Merrimack was occupied by booths crowded against each other, with religious proselytizers of Buddhist and Christian ilk competing for your attention loudly. As for the food, I think there were over a dozen vendors scattered throughout. Most offered the usual egg roll, green papaya salad, fried rice, meat skewer, Pad Thai line-up, while fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice and bubble tea were the popular drinks. But there were also more unusual items to try. Khao Lam (sticky rice, beans, coconut milk, and sugar steamed in bamboo sticks) was a hot seller, as was Khao Tom Madt (similar except with banana and steamed in banana leaves). I tried the latter and liked it, although it was quite heavy if you think of it as dessert. My wife loved the crispy fried fish (no batter, fried intensely enough to turn the smaller bones to crunch fodder), got to sample nibbles of deep-fried squid legs for free (also crispy), and tried appetizer-size portions of meat balls and fish cakes. The Burmese stand (the same one that was at the Lowell Folk Festival) had a number of interesting fried food offerings like pennywort and gourd (good with the dipping sauce, a bit bland otherwise), and tofu salad, which sounds pedestrian, but in fact was not what I expected. The tofu was bright yellow, dense, and had a custardy flavor. I looked this up later and found that it is made from yellow split peas and chick peas, and further yellow-boosted with turmeric. It was heavily garnished with cilantro. I like various forms of tofu, even stinky tofu, but this one...let's just say I didn't instantly acquire a taste for it. But my favorite nosh of the day was another salad--a spicy shredded bamboo shoot salad (Soop Naw Mai?). Simple, with fish sauce, chili pepper, cilantro, scallions, and garnished with raw onions and cabbage. Refreshing on a 90-deg day.

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