dancers

The Water Dragon makes an appearance once every 60 years, and with it follows a year of change and prosperity. Celebrate the Year of the Water Dragon at the year’s 25th annual Asian Festival.

UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures will host this annual festival that began as a traditional family reunion to celebrate the Chinese New Year and has since then grown to include other Asian communities in celebrating their cultures.

The Asian Festival is an opportunity for San Antonio’s Asian communities to showcase their culture and traditions through various modes, a favorite being their authentic dishes.

What better way to celebrate the Year of the Dragon but with a few steaming bowls full of kimchi, lumpia and tom yam goong. The festival will offer authentic Asian-American food from 15 vendors carrying a wide spread of dishes.

A staple dish associated with the Asian cultures featured at this festival includes kimchi. During the Fall 2011 semester UTSA’s East Asia Institute hosted its inaugural Kimchi Festival in honor of the national dish of Korea. Kimchi can have a variety of ingredients ,but it most commonly includes pickled cabbage, spices, peppers and a protein. This authentic dish is also, surprisingly, served chilled.

Another dish that may appear at this year’s celebration is lumpia, a traditional filipino dish similar to egg rolls. They are commonly filled with finely minced pork, beef or vegetables and served with an authentic sauce similar to sweet and sour sauce.

Tom Yam Goong, or spicy shrimp soup, is another dish festival goers can cross their fingers for. This classically Thai dish is a combatant of flavors including incredible spice and sourness, along with a variance of potent herbs. Depending on the chef, this versatile dish may include fish, chicken and prawns amongst many other ingredients.

Besides the delectable Asian cuisine, the festival will also include live cultural demonstrations such as music, workshops and dance performances.

The Philippine dance performance is the most anticipated event of the festival. The group performs two dances during their set including the national dance of the Philippines called Tinikling. Tinikling is reminiscent of jumprope, but instead of rope, bamboo poles are used. Instead of using the typical arrangement of two bamboo poles, last year’s performance used six. This meant that the performers had to navigate through the six poles each cycling through various motions. Needless to say, the Filipino performers never cease to impress, especially with their other performance of the Philippine folk dance “pandanggo sa ilaw. “

In English, this phrase means fandango with light. The highlight of this dance is the women who gracefully balance lit candles on the crown of their heads while performing. This seemingly dangerous dance is performed with sheer grace and attracts hordes of festival-goers to the foot of their stage.

The Asian Festival with be held this Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Tickets bought in advance are $8 for Adults 13 and older and $5 for children 6-12. At the gate, Adult tickets are $10 and child tickets are $5. Children 5 and under are free.

Advance tickets are available at ITC Store and at www.TexanCultures.com. For additional information, call (210) 458-2300 or visit www.TexanCultures.com.

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