ROARRRRRRR! The Tiger charges into Union Square this weekend and he’s so hungry, that frankly, we are nervous. Indeed, the Hungry Tiger Street Festival is back. This is when local restaurants hit the streets, selling their fare en plein air amidst a raucous global block party of sorts. We advise you to arrive hungry. Here’s a teaser for just some of the eats you’ll find at the festival: masala dosas (see photo) and other South Indian veggie favorites from Dosa Temple; tostadas, gordas and horchata from Cantina La Mexicana and ginger grapefruit mint popsicles from Culinary Cruisers.
Alberto Cabré of Casa B has always been a fan of street food. The Puerto Rican native says, “When I was a little kid, we often spent weekends in Loiza, on the northeast coast of the island. We’d go to a little street vendor who sold great salted cod fritters. So I took these and made them a little more high end at the restaurant. When people come here, they say, ‘Oh my God, these are just like the fritters in Loiza!'” At Hungry Tiger, Alberto will be serving chicken with plantains, cheese fritters, patacon, carimanola, among other nibbles.
Amidst all this global gastronomy, there will be fire performers, led by the fabulous Michael “Mooch” Mucciolo, artisans, Snake Dance Theater belly dancers and plenty of Nibble interactive food activities, including the Nose Olympics (winners receive a lifetime supply of fenugreek), an interactive global food map and kids’ activities. It will also be a chance to check out our spanking new Nibble book (which includes a complete guide to Union Square restaurants, markets and food producers).
Most of the Arts Council’s ArtsUnion events are held during the day, but Hungry Tiger is strictly a pm affair. Festival curator Mary Goodman, who dreamed up the idea for the event, says, “Hungry Tiger is held at night as it was inspired by the night markets found across Asia—wandering affairs where you can buy not all sorts of things but are also notorious for finding foods that represent the culture. Not only that, but during the night you can really transform a space using the right lighting, art, and, of course, fire!”
One goal of Tiger is to introduce Boston-area eaters to the gastronomic wonders of Union Square. As Goodman sees it, “this event lets people sample what various eateries have to offer without having to commit to a whole dinner ordeal. It also helps break down the barriers people have to the unfamiliar. People may not familiar with all the flavors that Union Square has to offer—Indian, Peruvian, Korean, Mexican, etc. I feel like I help create a welcoming, adventurous atmosphere where people may feel a little more daring and ready to try something new.”
Meagan O’Brien, the Arts Council’s ArtsUnion coordinator extraordinaire chimes in, “My favorite part of coordinating an event like this is speaking to all the restaurant owners—they’re from such diverse backgrounds. They are all excited to participate; it’s a chance to promote their culture. Of course it’s a good business opportunity for them, but it’s also a chance to be part of the community. I feel so corny saying this, but it’s true: Somerville has the best sense of community. This festival reflects this.”
Hungry Tiger Festival, Saturday, August 11, 6-10pm, Union Square Plaza (90 Union Square, Somerville). Free. Food prices reasonable. In case of rain, event will be moved to Sunday, August 12, same times. Visit www.somervilleartscouncil.org any time after Friday at noon to learn if event will be moved to Sunday because of rain.
PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS AND VENDORS:
Restaurants: Cantina la Mexicana, Fortissimo, India Palace, Dosa Temple, Casa B, Precinct , El Potro, Pao de Acucar, Neighborhood Restaurant, Culinary Cruisers
Vendors: Fire dancers from the Greater Boston Area including people from the Boston Circus Guild, belly-dancer and vendor Kyha, Villaris Self-Defense Center Somerville, Salem Street Beadery, I am Joolienn
NIBBLE BOOK LOWDOWN
The Arts Council’s new 132-page color book explores how food tells a story about Union Square, Somerville. Nibble costs $20; all proceeds support the public programs of the Somerville Arts Council. Nibble includes:
—Over 25 recipes from the folks at Taza, Casa B, Hightland Kitchen, the list goes on—and fabulous cooks, including the Mayor Joseph Curtatone’s mom, Maria!
—Feature articles about: the locavore scene; Latino-American restaurant owners and food tourism; the many wonders of Market Basket; and local wine makers
—Interviews with artists who use oreos and spices as media
—First-person food stories about making yucca flour in Brazil, making tamales in Guatemala and a “secret Indian joint” in Union Square with great saag paneer
—Plus, a Union Square restaurant, market and food producers guide!
WHERE TO BUY NIBBLE (in addition to Tiger Festival)
Cantina La Mexicana, 247 Washington Street, Union Sq.
Magpie, 416 Highland Avenue, Davis Square
Sherman Market, 22 Union Square
The Book Shop, 694 Broadway, Ball Square
Union Square Farmers’ Markets (Thur. evenings, 5-8pm; Sat. mornings, 9am-1pm)
Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge
Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard Street, Brookline
Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 238 Newbury Street, Boston