Yes, to all of you sceptics out there, there is some culture in Des Moines – who would’ve thunked 🙂

World Food Festival
A 3-day event sponsored by Wells Fargo, the festival was in the East Village neighborhood of downtown Des Moines. I ventured out on Sunday to see what it was all about. Fun!!! Food galore – wonderful variety of food from all over the world – Indian, Chinese, Salvadorian, Mexican, Southern, Russian, American, etc.

Wonderful marketing strategy – $1 tastes. In addition to offering full portions at $3-$5 each, many of the vendors offered $1 tastes of each of their dishes.

Best food find – pupusas. Not only is it fun to say the name of this Salvadorian dish, but it was a tasty treat. Pupusas are corn tortillas stuffed with a variety of toppings – anything from cheese, chicken, beef, pork, beans, etc. The stuffed tortillas are then deep fried and served with pickled cabbage salad on a side. I wish I was eating one now. Apparently there is a National Pupusa Day in El Salvadore every November 13th. Eat your pupusas 🙂

In addition to food the festival showcased dancing (belly dancing, African dance, Brazilian dance), singing, and crafts. And then there was a SalsaIowa booth – you know I had to stop there. I got to chat with the dance instructor briefly and saw him give several lessons in salsa and merengue…good stuff. I’m so excited to have a chance to dance in Iowa.

After spending a few hours at the festival, I strolled around the downtown – cute. Fun little shops, some restaurants. It’s definitely a growing part of the city. There are several brand new lofts/condos…I couldn’t resist taking a tour of one of them – absolutely beautiful, and so tempting to move into one. The prices shocked me – so high…people, you are in Iowa, remember?

Gallery Night
There is a part of the city called Valley Junction. I first discovered it last week as I was searching for the farmer’s market – sadly the market was no longer there. I came back on Friday after work for the Gallery Night – many of the galleries and shops stay open until 9pm, serve refreshments and showcase their art. I was secretly hoping to spend some of my first paycheck on something special, but nothing caught my eye. What did catch my eye was the audience – it was rather interesting to sit back and observe. You could definitely notice a difference in how people were dressed, how they acted, etc. It was like a splash of New York city lightly sprinkled on the Midwestern wholesomeness and goodness.