Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Cherry Blossom Festival 2004

When the weather warms up we look for any excuse to eat outdoors. It could be a picnic, a day at the beach or a street fair, food just tastes better outside. Especially when the day is sunny and bright and everyone is having fun and celebrating. Warm weather signals the beginning of street fair season and one of the first ones is the annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.

The Cherry Blossom Festival features an amazing food bazaar. The food is a mix of Japanese and American favorites, sometimes in the same dish, and it's a major reason we go each year. The air becomes thick with barbecue smoke and the scent of the grill and perhaps the gill. In addition to teriyaki burgers and strawberry shortcake, there is also bbq squid, bbq eel, rice balls and hot udon soup. This past Sunday in addition to the deliciously sweet eel and strawberry shortcake, we ate green tea ice cream, some inari which is a rice stuffed sweet bean curd, California rolls, gyoza and some spicy short ribs grilled up by the Asian Firefighters of San Francisco and served with a scoop of kim chee. Trust the firefighters when it comes to barbecue!

The Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of all things Japanese. It includes an arts and crafts fair, all kinds of cultural demonstrations. Some of my favorite events are the Japanese tea ceremony and performances by Japanese classical and folk dancers, and taiko drummers. Sunday was also the day of the grand parade along Post street. This year there was lots of cheering for our new mayor and our newly appointed police and fire chiefs. San Francisco is the first major city to have women heading up both those posts at once. An extra reason to cheer! We also saw several kimono-clad Japanese dance groups and scores of adorable school kids dancing and singing their way along the parade route. The strangest thing we saw was a contingent of people costumed like anime characters. Something you have to see to believe...

Now that the weather is finally warming up, keep on the lookout for beautiful cherry blossoms, head out to a street fair and find yourself something yummy to eat. Spring has finally sprung!