Color and Spice at the Afrika-Festival

Last night after the heat of the day had subsided, we decided to get some dinner while checking out the Afrika-Festival at Erwin-Schoettle-Platz in Stuttgart West. I'd seen the festival advertised for some time now, and wanted to see what it was all about. 

We decided to take the u-bahn to Marienplatz and walk up to stretch our legs some. As we approached, the slow trickle of pedestrians around us increased to a steady stream, and we could hear the up-beat rhythm of an African tune blaring from a distant loudspeaker. At 8pm, the festival was going strong despite my thought that it might be a bit less crowded due to the Lichterfest over at Killesbergpark. 

Everyone had come out dressed for the occasion, too. Women were in their most brightly-patterned summer dresses, and I even saw a few men in festively colored shirts. Everyone was happy and relaxed, and much like last week's Marienplatzfest, the mood was celebratory -- though with decidedly more goods for sale. 

Colorful dressing and shirts for sale

Bowls for sale

More clothing for sale

When we approached from Böblingerstraße, I was immediately struck by the number of colorful stands selling everything from colorful silk dresses and scarves to hand-painted bowls and dangling, gold or wood earrings. I had my eye on some of the lovely patterned tagines, but was pulled away by the spicy smell of thick, rich sauces being plated up next to the Matthäuskirche. It was getting late and we still hadn't eaten dinner yet.

A picture of the food stands -- and crowds -- at the festival

There were about half a dozen food stands set up around the square, mostly from local catering companies that I'd never seen before, though I did recognize Madagascar from our visit to the Street Food Market. We made our rounds, but had little idea of what to choose. I'm very unfamiliar with the different types of African foods, apart from Injeera. In the end, we jumped in the back of the line to a stand from the Dembadu catering company that looked like it was serving up an enticing mixed plate. 

The line to Dembadu was moving very slowly, so while Matt and Leo waited, I went over to the Dinkelacker stand and got us some drinks. They had hardly moved when I'd returned, so I decided to wait in the faster-moving line next door at Akuna Matata catering. They had a delicious-looking picture of something called Dodo that I wanted to try. As I rightly guessed, the Kochbananen in the Dodo turned out to be fried plantains that were covered in a tomato-ginger sauce with vegetables. They were really a great combination of sweet, fleshy plantain and savory sauce with a hint of spice from the chili sauce that that the chef was kind enough to drizzle on top for me. 

Akuna Matata Catering

Fried plantains in a tomato-ginger sauce

By the time we finished our snack, we were just about at the front of the line to Dembadu after almost an hour of waiting. (Be warned that you may want to go earlier in the day if you're not a line person.) The mixed plate that we got came with rice and couscous topped with Domoda (beef and vegetables in a peanut sauce), Yassa (chicken in a kind of lemon sauce), Lamb Stew, Aloko (fried plantains), and Panketo (a kind of fried dough ball). I really liked the creamy, peanut-buttery flavor of the Domoda, but the lemon Yassa sauce was a close second for my favorite. Both went really well with the fluffy couscous. The Panketo was also yummy -- who doesn't like fried dough? -- and reminded me of a more savory version of the Festival served at Patrick's Stop. Because we didn't really know much about the different kinds of foods, I think ordering the mixed plate was definitely smart for our first time at the festival. 

Dembadu Catering

Mixed plate of beef, chicken, and lamb with vegetables on rice and couscous

Lovely tea lights for sale

By this time, the sun had gone down and most people were sipping cocktails and enjoying the music. Some of the stalls were closing up shop, but a few were lighting candles and turning on lights for the late festival goers. After finishing our food and making one last loop, we decided to head home. We'd had a lovely evening, and I'm sure this will become another annual festival that we'll attend again in the future.