Recovering from the #KarachiEat2015 food coma
Second year running, Karachi Eat Festival 2015 might just have faced the ‘terrible twos’ trauma, yet the effort has to be lauded. Against the back drop of the historical Frere Hall, this three-day long food fest was greeted, appreciated, criticised and maligned by many.
Whilst people had to face traffic nightmares, underwhelming food offerings from various vendors and disappointment as a whole, my family and I were lucky to have faced none of the above. When we arrived on the hot Saturday afternoon, vendors were still waking up from their slumber. Yet in a matter of half an hour or so, the frenzy and vibe had picked up. Mixed aromas of freshly cooked gigantic chapli kebabs, strawberry samosas, Khao Suey, sweet potato fries, bun kebabs and so much more kick-started the gastric juices.
Our first pick for the day were the strawberry samosas by Spoonful. Crisp samosas filled with deep fried strawberries covered in cream, Nutella and chopped strawberries. The only words to describe them: Brilliant and scrumptious!
While my son and the hubby headed over to ‘Nano’s for a bun kebab, I looked around for something to my liking. The Danish open sandwiches with roast chicken and beef looked delectable, yet I found myself biting into the tangy, hot and extremely soft bun kebabs. Served with a dirty ketchup and spicy green chilli sauce, the small bun kebabs were a complete mouthful. I could have easily gone for seconds, but wanted to save my appetite for lots more the festival had to offer.
An instant noodle fan, my daughter did not want to budge from the Knorr stall, which also offered a game in exchange for a cup of noodles. While she slurped on the Cheese Chatkhara flavoured noodles, we moved onto more foodie exchanges.
A massive, freshly fried, crisp on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside, the chapli kebab from Chapli Kabab House served over a naan was probably the best one I have ever had. It was simply Chaptastic!
Our gluttony continued to a bowl of luke warm Khao Suey from The Deli, some more chapli kebabs, a bowl of chilli chicken and buttered rice from China Kitchen and finally, ending the escapade with a moist red velvet cupcake with buttercream frosting from Pane and Amore. What I direly missed, apart from a hat, was a decent caffeine shot. I sent the hubby looking for coffee, and he came back with a sad, half demised cup of green tea. Apparently there were supposed to be dedicated coffee stations, for which perhaps, we had arrived too early in the day.
Friends, peppy music, winter sun, happiness, food choices, chilled drinks, cupcakes, chicken karahis on coal, macaroons, homemade fudge, Glucose D drinks, curly fries, fresh juices – there was so much to ingest, enjoy and appreciate. Yet, some felt it was an unorganised, time and money wasting event. When the KKK (the krazy Karachi krowd) descends upon something as hearty as food, things are bound to get out of hand. And I don’t blame those who got stuck in long queues, bore the heat and returned starving.
While the event looked great, I couldn’t help but notice that people from all stratas of society were not in the mix. And although the festival incorporated all kinds of food, a large variety too, a regular portion was about Rs200, the helpings were small and not easily affordable by everyone on the block. The entrance ticket was an additional Rs200, which was not redeemable and, in my opinion, played a part in screening a lot of the middle class from coming in. I hope though that in times to come the festival can be more inclusive.
What was pleasantly surprising, however, was that I noticed a lot of older men and women with their kids. No young men were found ogling the women, which again was extremely pleasant surprise.
All in all, the effort is a brilliant one and should become a trend that continues every year. The only request I have from the management is to be more organised in terms of their timing, parking facilities and general management of such events.
Looking forward to a better organised and well managed Karachi Eat 2016!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.