At the Karachi Eat Food Festival titled “Where’s the Food?” the pun seemed intentional. The two-day food affair over the weekend pronounced Karachiities’ long standing love affair with all things edible. Fifty stalls were party to this festival, reserved exclusively for families, and there was food everywhere.
With majestic Frere Hall in the background, people of all ages milled about and mingled on the grass. Seating areas consisted of umbrella-covered tables laden with food, along with couches to accommodate other visitors. The landmark fountain at the venue had been altered, most probably filled with laundry detergent as it was pooling over with bubbles, and giving off a fantastic smell.
Missing from the line-up of 50-odd stalls was Bar B-Q Tonite, Xanders and Flo. Okra was present on the first day, but members of their team flew out to Dubai for an international food festival the next day, a source confirmed. There was, however, a host of other well-known restaurants present on both days, including China Kitchen, Pantry, Neco’s, Espresso and Biryani of the Seas, to name a few.
There was something to nibble on for everyone, from delectable samosas from Anjarwala and rolls from Red Apple, to cake-tasting at the cake-making competition. Every palate was satisfied. The variety of food available was phenomenal, from continental, to far eastern, to our very own Pakistani cuisine. One’s appetite just grew as the day went by. This reporter came across Sikander Rizvi, popularly known in social circle as Alexander Rizvi, who owns Xander’s, as he was nibbling down the final bits of a savory delight. While he was in attendance, why wasn’t his café and it’s delicious delights present? He said, “Well, you see, I wasn’t in town when this was being organised. I just arrived. I love it here, I [certainly] missed this opportunity.”
One met up with a young mother Nadia Salman, strolling along cradling a newborn in her arms, with her other two older ones running around. Salman told The Express Tribune, “Such things should happen in the city more often; it gives us ample opportunity to go out and have fun.”
Another visitor, Javeria Sharifian, seated under a canopy with her family of four, thought along the same lines. She said, “Keeping the tense situation of Karachi in mind, we hardly get to go out and enjoy festivals like these. But definitely it’s worth coming here. Such things should happen more often.”
Asif Hussain, a worker with Biryani of the Seas (BOTS), confided that sales were going well and such events help restaurants see what customers enjoy most in terms of food. “BOTS only recently participated in Greenwich University’s Food Festival held at their campus. Unfortunately, these food festivals are one-offs in Karachi and should happen more frequently,” he said.
All in all, the event was well organised, with valet parking and easy access to the venue. There is always room for improvement however. A map of stall locations would have proved extremely helpful and would have ensured that no morsel went untasted.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2014.