Ethnic Food and Dance Fair – Louisville Kentucky – A Taste of St. Michael’s

DSC07708St Michael’s Church in Louisville Kentucky is home to an intriguing array of ethnicities from around the globe including Bulgaria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Romania, Russia, Syria and the Ukraine. Each year in October it celebrates its diversity by holding the “Taste of St Michael’s” food and dance fair, inviting us lucky Louisvillians to enjoy an explosion of flavors in dishes with exotic names prepared by its members. The fair is the epitome of Emma Lazrus’ haunting sonnet, a realization of our American melting pot.

This year St Michael’s did not disappoint. I arrived at around 2pm on Saturday to find the fair in full swing. The grills outside were smoking and the internal kitchen a flurry of activity with chefs quickly replenishing sold out items.

From the Middle Eastern section I had the mujadara (imjaddarah ) and kubie (kibbeh). Mujadera is a rice and lentil dish,DSC07695 combined with sautéed onions, salt and pepper and is one of my favorite dishes. This was prepared perfectly, with the ingredients yielding a rich, soft, earthy flavor. Kubbeh can be fried or baked. When I lived in Israel my Lebanese neighbor taught me to prepare it with bulgur wheat, chopped mint, cumin, salt, pepper and onions stirred into ground lamb and pan fried in olive oil. Mmmm, mmmm, mmm! There are, of course, as many variations of recipes as there are chefs. The St Michael’s version of kubie used beef instead of lamb, butter, cinnamon and a variety of other ingredients, producing a flavorful authentic dish.

DSC07727Two of my favorite Greek finger foods, which cater to the pedestrian side of my pallet, are the ubiquitous Spanikopita and its look alike sister Tyropita. Both are made from phyllo dough filled with feta and ricotta cheese, with the Spanikopita having the 3rd basic ingredient spinach. Preparing the phyllo dough properly so that it’s crisp, flakey and melts in your mouth, is a labor intensive labor of love, not meant for amateurs. These were perfect with a generous portion of spinach in the triangle shaped Spanikopita. I very reluctantly passed up on the pastitsio, (the Greek version of lasagna) which looked delicious, but this morning’s memory of my bathroom scale still weighed on me, and I headed for the Slavic section.

The Slavs are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group living in Central , Eastern ,and Southeast Europe, and in North Slavic Pierogiesand Central Asia and today are comprised chiefly of the Belarusians, Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, Wends, or Sorbs, Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes. Worldwide people of Slavic descent number around 350,000,000, making Slavs among the largest panethnicities in the world. With that many people involved, you just know they’re going to produce some interesting food. I chose the humble pierogi. It was milky white, covered in a clear liquid film of butter sauce with a hint of onion, and stuffed with soft potato and served with a side of sour cream, the perfect complement to this simple yet delicious Slavic icon.

Ethiopian Food DishesGiant magnets pulled me to the calorie laden Indian (battura, carrot halwa) and Ethiopian (tikil gomen) delicacies, yet I resisted and landed up with a small grilled mititei, the Romanian version of an American hamburger, except much more delicately flavored with thyme and at least one other spice which escaped my identification . It was served in a bun which was dry and crumbled, the only sub-par item I encountered.

In another room Arabic coffee was served with many desserts. Salivation City! I tried the date ma’mool, a Middle Eastern cookie – the date texture was soft and chewy, just as it should be. Muslims eat them at night during Ramadan, and Arabic Speaking Christians eat them at Easter. In Lebanese and Egyptian Jewish communities, ma’amoul with nut fillings are eaten on Purim, and ma’amoul with date fillings are eaten on Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah.

Now all that was left to do was go outside and enjoy the exotic, hip shaking dancing. I stayed about an hour – check out snippets of video and photos I’ve posted on my Google+ page at Up Dancer Framed


Green Beans and Rice
Green Beans and sautéed onions cooked in tomato sauce and seasoned with salt, pepper, cinnamon and garlic powder. The Rice is cooked with chicken stock and butter.

Fried Kubie/ Baked Kubie
Ground sirloin, cracked wheat, onions seasoned with cinnamon, salt, pepper. Stuffed with ground chuck, onions, butter, cinnamon, salt and pepper

Cabbage Rolls
Cabbage stuffed with ground sirloin, rice, tomato sauce, salt/pepper, cinnamon and garlic

Grape Leaves
Grape leaves stuffed with green onions, parsley, mint, salt and pepper, oil and lemon

Salad containing parsley, tomatoes, green onions, mint, cracked wheat, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper

Pureed chick peas with tahini, lemon juice and garlic

Imjaddarah (Mujaddarah)
Sautéed onions cooked with lentils and rice, salt/pepper


Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
Noodles, ground beef, tomato sauce, and onions topped with parmesan cheese and cream sauce

Phyllo dough filled with spinach, feta and ricotta cheeses

Phyllo dough filled with feta and ricotta cheeses


Beet soup with beef, carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, dill and spice

Dumplings stuffed with potatoes and cheese served in onions and butter sauce with a side of sour cream. Not to be confused with Perogen, a Jewish pastry similar to Indian Samosa.


Cholay (Chickpea & Tomato Curry)
Chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chiles, cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, dried pomegranate seeds, mango powder, salt & fresh cilantro

Battura (Fried Yogurt Bread)
All-purpose flour, vegetable oil, yogurt, granulated sugar, salt

Carrot Halwa (Sweet Dessert Pudding)
Grated carrots, whole milk, sugar, cardamom powder, condensed milk, ghee-clarified butter, almonds and cashews


Injera bread
A yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour, it is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea

Alicha Kik Wot
Delicious yellow split pea stew made from split pea, onion, turmeric, oil, garlic and ginger

Misir Wot
Red lentils made from whole lentils, seasoned spices, onion, oil, garlic and ginger

Tikil Gomen
Cabbage, potatoes and carrots cooked with oil, spiced with turmeric, garlic and ginger

Doro Wot
Succulent chicken stew made from skinless chicken drumsticks, hard boiled eggs with generous seasoned spices, onion, butter, and tomato sauce.

Alicha Kik Wot
Delicious yellow split pea stew made from split pea, onion, turmeric, oil, garlic and ginger


Ground beef, thyme and pepper grilled to perfection

Shish Kabob
Marinated beef, peppers and onions served on a stick with pita bread

Chicken Kabob
Marinated chicken, peppers and onions served on a stick with pita bread

Gyros with pita bread
Pita bread filled with sliced beef, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt) sauce


Hot Dogs


Baklava (Nut)
Layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts, sugar, butter and topped with syrup

Baklava (Chocolate)
Layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts, sugar, butter, chocolate chips, drizzled with chocolate and topped with syrup

Finger Rolls
Phyllo dough rolled with chopped nuts, sugar, and butter. Topped with syrup

Baklava Sundae
Vanilla ice cream topped with crumbled Baklava

Namoura (Farina)
Cream of wheat with sugar and nuts topped with syrup

Butter cookie with flour and sugar

Pecan Cup
Pastry shell with pecan filling

Waffle cookie made with dates, flour, eggs, sugar, butter, and almond extract

Ma’Mool (Nut)
Cookie made with nuts, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, and baking powder

Ma’Mool (Date)
Cookie made with dates, butter,

Greek sugar cookies made with flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and eggs

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate chips, flour, butter, and eggs

Cream Puffs
Crusty shells filled with vanilla pudding flour, sugar, eggs, and baking powder


DSC07767Assorted DesertsEthiopian Doo Wot and Injera BreadGreek PastitsioIndian Food DishesBaklava