LOWELL -- Whatever you do, don't call it a hamburger. It's called a losh kebab and the Armenian Relief Society was offering the burger-like cuisine as their signature dish at the Lowell Folk Festival Saturday.

Served with pita bread, rice pilaf and salad, the losh kebab is a beef patty infused with vegetables and spices.

"That's the top seller ... but it's not a hamburger. It looks like a hamburger," said Sossy Jeknavorian, chairwoman of the Armenian Relief Society. "It's a secret recipe that's been in the family for years."

And Armenian food was just one of myriad ethnic cuisines offered at the festival.

Attendees could sample foods from all over the world, from Indonesia to Colombia to Jamaica.

But the Lowell Polish Cultural Committee was dishing out one of the festival favorites: the handmade Polish pierogi, which is essentially a dumpling stuffed with cheese and potato or cabbage.

Bought in bulk from an authentic, old-style pierogi maker in Connecticut, Polish Cultural Committee volunteer Carol Matyka said long lines form for the Polish dish that flies off the table.

"Every year we order some. Then we sell out. We order more and then we sell out again," said Matyka.

Matyka said an up-and-coming item this year would be the ogorki, which is a fresh Polish dill pickle.

"They're really starting to take off," said Matyka.

St. Ann's Church was offering food hailing from several different cultures.


Advertisement

One tent had cuisine from Colombia, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

"The most popular right now is the Colombian potato dish," said St. Ann's Church volunteer Myra Morris on Saturday afternoon.

The dish Morris is referring to is called papa rellena and it's essentially potato balls stuffed with beef.

Morris was also offering Guatemalan tamalés and a traditional Puerto Rican dinner of chicken or pork, rice cooked with gandules, pasta salad and green salad.

Abutting St.

Ann's Church along the canal, Medford resident Angelica Ortiz was showcasing her process in creating authentic Mexican piñatas.

Based off an Italian word meaning "clay pot," piñatas were originally made with clay pots as the base to build off of, instead of balloons, which are commonly used today.

Ortiz said that the piñatas made in Mexico originally would spew out fruit and nuts when smashed open and not candy, as kids now have come to expect.

But when it comes to sweets, the Brazilian Foursquare Church was offering several different delicious dessert dishes, including flan, puddings and more.

However, the one item that seemed to take the cake, so to speak, was the brigadeiros.

Made essentially from chocolate, condensed milk and jimmies, brigadeiros are basically chocolate balls covered in jimmies with a consistency halfway between fudge and taffy.

"That's a tradition at kids' parties and weddings. Most people like it. It's very soft but it's hard enough for you to roll it," said Maria Vicente, a member of the Foursquare Church in Lowell.

Next door, attendees could find authentic Burmese food, sponsored by SayDaNar Community Development.

SayDaNar event coordinator Nikki Lynch said that a top seller this year has been the kayah dish, which consists of banana bud, rice, chicken, garlic, onion and scallions.

SayDaNar essentially helps Burmese refugees with many of the challenges associated with adjusting to American life.

"We serve about 150 Burmese refugees," said Lynch. "We're also all about making sure the kids feel comfortable with their ethnicity while weaning them in with the American side."

Back along the Merrimack Canal in the Folk Craft section, kids were having fun pedaling a bicycle-powered machine used to pulp cloth into a material used to make paper.

Saranac, N.Y., residents Drew Matott and Margaret Mahan were featuring their handmade paper process at the festival. Their bicycle-powered machine creates the pulp used to make paper from old clothing. As Matott and other volunteers help pedal the machine, Mahan showed festival-goers the rest of the process used to make the paper.

The Lowell Folk Festival continues today with more food, exhibits and music. Find out more at LowellFolkFestival.org.