CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Cultural Heritage Showcase packs in plenty of tastes for Port Arthur

Published 6:15 am Monday, October 16, 2023

Gumbo, cornbread, beans and rice and Esther’s Cajun Cake were some popular flavors at Saturday’s Cultural Heritage Showcase, a Quasquicentennial celebration at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center.

So many of Port Arthur’s diverse cultures were highlighted with dance, music, art and more.

You know I loved the “flavors” part. Hey, everyone else did, too.

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The Italians included cookies from Rao’s Bakery in their corner.

Vietnamese representatives offered colorfully packaged candies in fruit flavors such as lychee.

Gail Pellum, who coordinates Juneteenth in our area, served up sweet potato pie bites.

An interesting one came from the Philippines. Cristy Burnham served cassava cake from yucca root and said it was her personal favorite. I loved it, but I was even more attracted to ube (considered a purple yam) that was fashioned into candies and cookies with white chocolate. This food was purple, my favorite color.

The group displayed a bowl of the actual yams next to the beautiful cookies. All this purple food ought to go over well with Port Neches-Groves fans.

I spoke to several people really enjoying themselves at this Port Arthur “birthday” event.

Speaking of global topics, here are some fun books that feature flavors and/or travel:

“Cake Mix” – Remy’s new classmates ask “What are you?” Baking a cake with her mom leads to “Learning to love all your ingredients.” This book offers a delicious way of explaining mixed ethnicities to children. Her cake includes flour, eggs and flavorings that make it her own.

Her mom explains to Remy about her parents’ backgrounds mixed to create her. Then Mom guides her through a lesson that later the whole class can enjoy. Mikki Hernandez wrote this book created the MixedKids&Co blog.

“The Sun and the Planets” is a supernova kind of cool pop-up book with “wow grade” tidbits on every page. Patricia Geis is the author. Inside is a 3-D Solar System with Pop-Ups for kids to “investigate like a real scientist with interactive models and mechanisms.” So they’re all paper, but the pullout star chart is crazy helpful to little scientists.

In my school days I’d have wished for a fun book like this for every subject. If the recent eclipse boosted interest at your house, look to these pages for facts that are certainly not “trivia,” such as: Our solar system is a tiny part of the Milky Way, which is just one of two trillion galaxies that make up the universe. Mind blown.

“Brooklyn Bound: A Coloring Book” – You might expect a bagel and deli reference in this adult color book. I found them. Building fronts and street signs guide you through these pleasant pages. Other signs in windows or on buildings are for Peppa’s Jerk Chicken, Fisherman’s Cove, Pete’s Candy, Cold Beer Store, Love Dough Pizzeria.

Mikayla Sherfy takes us through Bedstuy, Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, Coney Island and more. So don’t worry, you can almost feel yourself walking off the calories. Let’s head to NYC!

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves trying new things from everywhere. Email her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.