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14 September 2015

Macedonian Food Festival


Only in its 6th year, the Macedonian Food Festival put on by the St. Nikola Macedonian Orthodox Church in Totowa, New Jersey is still a small ordeal. On a beautiful Sunday, I attended the event and found no lines or crowds for tickets or food, stood and asked the ladies under the tents plenty of questions, and found a gigantic table unused. Other tables were filled by families that came together, speaking what I would gather to be Macedonian amongst themselves. By the end of my meal, a man with his daughter approached me and asked me a question in this language that I answered confidently in English, knowing full well he just wanted the rest of the table for his family. Older friends or family all gathered around to coo over the little one.

Upon entering, signs point out the need to buy tickets that could be exchanged for food. The two main platter options were either the "Macedonian specialties" or "Grill platter." They both cost $12, so it was easy to peruse the tables to see what offered the best value, although deciding was hard.

The "specialties" section of the tables had many items, like the stuffed peppers (polneti piperki) and stuffed cabbage (sarma) below, and the cheese burek-like pastry above that was sliced like a pizza. Plenty of other pastries surrounded, and this was only the selection of savory options, desserts had their own separate table.

From the look of the empty trays, meat was the more popular option and I decided to follow form. As I was making my choices, a fresh batch of pleskavica (The burger-like item that is almost empty on the left below) was delivered, but I wanted a bit of a mixture so I selected a chicken raznici (shish kebab) to go with my four links of kebapi.

The grill platter also included a piece of bread, a few fries, coleslaw, and a wonderful spicy pepper that is mostly obscured in the photograph below by the chicken. You can garnish your meat with onions and dried red pepper as desired, but there is unfortunately no ajvar on hand to moisten things up. The kebapi is delicious while the chicken remained uneaten due to its dryness. I needed to save room for a long day in New Jersey.

Any meal could be perfectly rounded off with their vast array of sweets also available for purchase individually. Everything seemed to be in the $1-3 range. I had my eyes on some other cuisines in other parts of the state though, so I left a little room for later.

A small tent was set up with what seemed to be a DJ that was singing along with all the music he played. This sort of karaoke was solo though, as no one else took a turn, at least while I was there. Inside the community center was a small shop with canned and jarred goods from back home.

The 2015 festival took place over the weekend of September 12th and 13th.

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