What we eat says a great deal about who we are and where we came from.
Vendors invited to participate in the Great Lakes Folk Festival's "Taste of Traditions Food Court" offer traditional foods closely linked to their ethnicity or region.
Information for Food Vendors
Information for Traditional and Non Traditional Food Vendors
Taste of Tradition Vendors 2012
A.J.'s Rib Experience (barbecue)
Anishnabe Meejim (Native America)
Bangkok House (Asian Foods)
Marias Tacos Catering (Tex-Mex)
Sultan’s Delight (Middle Eastern Cuisine)
Zemers Rootbeer (homemade rootbeer and floats)
Local and Other Food Vendors 2012
Amist concessions (lemonade & cold drinks)
Blimpie/Smoothie Island (subs & smoothies)
Fresh Tropical Drink (assorted made to order fruit drinks)
Grand Grillin (chicken, wraps, etc)
King of the Grill (brats, pulled pork sandwiches)
Melting Moments (ice cream)
Shucks Enterprises (roasted corn)
Starlite Concessions (burgers, sandwiches and fresh cut fries)
A.J. Rib Experience
Barbecuing ribs is an art and practitioners have their own discrete methods. Some marinate, some baste with vinegar, some boil, some bake, and some smoke the meat. Ribs can be cooked long and slow or hot and fast. Some like their ribs moist and tender; others argue that only firm and chewy will do. And what of the sauce or spices? Some use commercially bottled sauce that they adjust to their taste, while others make their sauce from scratch, often using a family recipe. Others rub the ribs with spices and may or may not use sauce. There is wide variation in the degree of spiciness and sweetness. In Michigan, ribs are a popular foodways, about which everyone has a strong opinion. Allen Jones's barbecued ribs are rubbed with a secret seasoning and smoked.
Allen Jones moved with his family from Chicago to Flint in 1969. As a child, he already had aspirations of being a chef and began cooking at the age of 5 under the direction of his mother, grandmother, and great-great uncle. He attended prestigious culinary art schools in Arkansas and Boston and is now a certified chef. He applied his culinary skills at the Michigan School for the Blind until the school closed in 1994, when he turned to catering. Today his family's southern culinary heritage is but one part of his cooking repertoire. He did not begin to barbecue until the late 1990s, when he saw a fellow barbecuing and selling ribs on a street corner and he knew he wanted to do this. When not at the Great Lakes Folk Festival, Allen can be found selling ribs on the corner of Pleasant Grove and Hamilton.
Robin and Eva Menefee
Native American Foods
Native American cooking consists of the oldest foods and the oldest cooking methods in North America—a food and cooking tradition based on things gathered from the ground, plants, and fresh and salt waters. Like the Native Americans themselves, their food and cooking have changed greatly since first contact with Europeans. Nonetheless, the Native foods that were once associated with ceremonial life remain so today. Certain things are still eaten in certain seasons only by certain people. What is eaten is central to being Native, and nothing is eaten without a prayer.
Many New World foods have enriched the cuisines of other nations. What would Italian food be, for example, without the tomato? Native peoples grew and preserved a wide variety of corn, which European traders took to all corners of the world. Corn is still an important ingredient in the Native American diet and is eaten in a variety of ways.
Some foods closely identified today with Indians are the result of European and other Native American influences. Frybread, for example, evolved because of access to European wheat and lard, and today it is associated with all Indians. Through fairs, festivals, and pow wows, the southwestern version of frybread--the Indian or Navajo taco--has been adopted by Native Americans of the Great Lakes region and elsewhere.
The term "Tex Mex" designates Texas Mexicans (Tejanos) and their culture. Much of the cuisine we know in Michigan as Mexican is Tex Mex, brought by families who settled in Michigan from Texas and by seasonal agricultural workers from Texas who live part of the year in Michigan.
The Espinoza family's ancestors emigrated from Mexico to Texas during the Great Depression. Highway construction work in the 1950s brought the grandparents of James Espinoza to Michigan, and ultimately his family turned to agricultural work and settled in the Thumb region. James Espinoza and his mother, Maria, made and sold tacos for the first time at a Croswell festival three years ago. They make tacos the way their family has made them for generations, with corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, beef or chicken seasoned with cumin and garlic, lettuce, tomato, and mild homemade salsa. This, according to James, is the "real" Tex-Mex taco from the region of Corpus Christi. In addition, they offer burritos, which James describes as taco ingredients plus beans wrapped in a flour tortilla.
East Lansing, MI
Middle Eastern Cuisine
Zemer's rootbeer stand rootbeer is an all-American drink that dates from the mid-nineteenth century. Chris Zemer is a fourth-generation rootbeer maker and vendor; his great grandfather started his rootbeer business in Ionia in the 1920s. From a stand made by his grandfather and great grandfather in the 1920s, Chris and his wife Joy have been selling rootbeer since 1991. Chris's grandfather made the counters and his great grandfather had used the rootbeer barrel, both of which are part of the stand. The stand is a highly valued family heirloom and the rootbeer business, a long family tradition.
With this history, Chris has stories to tell. He won't give us his secret recipe, but he will tell you there's nothing better than an ice-cold glass of his homemade rootbeer. "Once you taste my rootbeer," Chris boasted, "you'll never want anyone else's."
Taste of the Great Lakes
Beer and Wine Tent
in partnership with Lansing Jaycees
Located in the Taste of Traditions foodways area on Albert Street, near the Dance Tent; featuring a selection of Great Lakes beer and wine, as well as a selection of soft drinks; open during all festival hours. The Jaycees are planning to offer these fine regional beverages.
Twisted Teas - assorted flavors
Frankenmuth Brewery Root Bier
Leininkugels Summer Shandy
August Schell Firebrick 1/6 barrel
Goose Island IPA
Frankenmuth Brewery Munich Dunkel
North Peak Siren
North Peak Furry
Atwater Block Dirty Blond
Wines by Uncle John's Winery of St. Johns, Mich.