Yesterday as I continued on my Folklorama journey, I decided to see the world without leaving downtown. I began my evening at the Cuban Pavilion in the Convention Centre. I got even closer to home with my second stop. This was the Portugal Pavilion just off Notre Dame, not all that far from where I live.
Cuban Pavilion Cultural Display
Arriving at the Cuban Pavilion, I was greeted by Amadis McKay, one of the youth ambassadors. He gave me a tour of the various displays, providing an informed and entertaining commentary along the way. The pavilion also gave out a quiz to fill while you are going through the display. Answer all the questions correctly and you receive a magnetic picture frame to take home.
Among the displays you can discover the history of pirates and piracy in Cuba. They also feature baseball, boxing and volleyball. My favourite Cuban baseball player is Livan Hernandez who played for the Expos in their last two seasons in Montreal.
The displays also highlight the fact that Cuba, despite being relatively small is home to several Unesco heritage sites.
Shortly after arrival I was given a Mojito to try. The rum and mint make for a great combination in a drink.
I watched the show and then got my food. I went for a dinner choice with the chicken plate. It came with chicken, black beans, rice, and salad. The chicken was very well prepared, and the rice had a pleasing saltiness to it.
Looking for a sweet finish to the meal I picked up a meringue for dessert. Meringues are one of my favourite childhood desserts. These one did justice to the memories. Crispy on the outside with a good chew in the middle. The pink finishing sugar on top adds a nice touch of colour.
As the video at the top shows, the Cuban Pavilion puts on an entertaining, colourful, and enjoyable show. The colour of the costume are brilliant. The pace of the dancing was unrelenting, This is the sort of show where one gets tired simply watching it. The pavilion also offers late night parties if you want to be a dancer rather than just watch dancers.
Pavilion of Portugal
After leaving the Cuban Pavilion, I headed over to the Pavilion of Portugal. Last week I visited the Casa do Minho Pavilion and I wondered what the differences would be. In some ways they are very similar. I noticed it most in the food, of which more in a bit. Yet there are enough differences that make each worthwhile to visit.
I went in and ordered the sample plate, along with a cream horn. One of the little differences was that the Portugal Pavilion offers a lemon filled cream horn. The cream horn itself was a little smaller and denser, but every bit as wonderful. This time around the Portuguese perogie had cheese in it’s filling. *apparently my taste buds are failing me. It is a shrimp filling in the perogie. I was informed of this by the chef’s daughter who helped to prepare them. My apologies. This is very important for anyone who may have a seafood allergy. Whatever the filling they are very delicious. The best thing is the food is so good, I’d happily repeat it any week.
Both pavilions offer the same Portuguese soft drinks so this time I went for the Bica com Cheirinho. This is a shot of coffee, similar to espresso, topped with Brandy. If the African Cocktail is a beverage where the alcohol sneaks up on you, in the Bica it hits you smack in the face. I enjoyed this with a couple of packets of sugar to sweeten it up.
The show at the Portugal Pavilion highlights dances from various regions throughout the country. In addition to difference in dances, the show also highlights differences in costume throughout the country.
This year the pavilion also brought in a singer to be part of the show. Henrique Cipriano, out of Toronto, is an engaging performer. He sings very well, and interacts with the audience throughout.
Portugal Cultural Display
The cultural display is located in the basement of the centre. Like the show it highlights the various regions of the country. The most interesting thing I learned is that Portugal is the only European country with it’s own tea growing region. I sampled some of the green tea, which is more robust than many of the green teas you find out there. I quite like that.
One highlight of visiting the display was the volunteers that were running it. The volunteer performance at Folklorama is generally very high, but the volunteers here outdid themselves.
If you visited Casa do Minho in the first week, don’t let that keep you away from the Portugal this week. There is more than enough Portuguese goodness to go around two pavilions.