Another day, another wonderful walking tour, this one of Flushing, Queens. Our first stop was the Myanmar Baptist Church’s 15th Annual Fun Fair, and indeed it was fun, especially for my tastebuds! We feasted on amazing, never-before-tried Burmese dishes and desserts; listened to some intense rock and roll covers of well-known Western pop songs (“La Isla Bonita,” anyone?); and played a game trying to figure out what the individual letters that many of the church kids were carrying spelled, which turned out to be “IN GOD WE TRUST” (doesn’t that make you think of money more than anything else, capitalist heathens?).
Our dessert spoils:
I apologize for not giving you the proper name of all of these treats, but the signs were mostly written in Burmese script, and when I tried to ask what things were, I think I taxed the vendors’ English lexicon and was usually only able to glean something about coconut. Therefore, some dessert research was required (the best kind of research, according to a recent poll).
I loved watching the preparation for the shaved ice, which included lots of exciting fixins like: crushed peanuts, aiyu jellies (made from the seeds of a variety of fig that become gelatinous when rubbed together with water), ABC Special Grade raspberry syrup, Hale’s Blue Boy grape syrup (featuring a dancing little boy in short pants on the label), and Houston Cowboy pineapple syrup (featuring a suspiciously familiar dancing little boy in a cowboy costume on the label).
The milk shake line was the longest, so course I had to join it. The drink turned out to be a lovely concoction of sweet rosewater syrup and melty ice cream, various jellies, and tulsi seeds, which come from a plant in the basil family, look like poppy seeds when dry, but when soaked, get a nice clear coating. They have no taste, but add a tiny crunch of texture. I’m not a fan of flower-flavored desserts, because I feel like I’m eating perfume, but the rose taste here was quite subtle. The shake overall was refreshing indeed. It was very similar to falooda, another South Asian dessert, but without the vermicelli noodles and tapioca.
As far as the coconut and rice cakes go, I know that one was brown and the other was reddish, but I assure you that they tasted largely the same– kinda bland. Not enough sugar for my sweet tooth. I was tempted to run back over to the shaved ice lady and steal some of her cowboy syrup to douse the cakes with.
If you’re interested in trying Burmese food in a festive atmosphere with welcoming church folk, keep your eye out for this fair next year (around mid-August?).Myanmar Baptist Church corner of 84th Drive and Smedley St. Flushing, Queens, NY
MBC’s specially dedicated fun fair page: http://www.emallbay.com/funfair