Lahore Eat 2016 was a roaring success with a people known for their love of food
After twice making the rounds in Karachi, Capra Khan Omari Events in conjunction with Latitude PR, finally gave Lahoris the chance to come out and celebrate the vast culinary delights at one venue. The event was Lahore Eat 2016.
For three consecutive days, people of all ages and backgrounds, provided they had female company (due to the events’ strict families-only policy), descended upon Jilani Park to enjoy the wares of over fifty vendors.
The event had generated a lot of hype through clever marketing via social media and ridden the positive vibes associated with Karachi Eat through word of mouth. So the question wasn’t whether people would attend the event but rather on how it would be received. I, along with the toughest food critic I know -- my mother -- attended the event to gauge if all the hype was indeed justified.
To start with, there was a lot of ambiguity over the location of the event with people confusing the park with Racecourse and/or Bagh-e-Jinnah. Thankfully, having dutifully done my homework, I knew the difference and proceeded to the right location.
Soon I got the sense that my arrival was not the culmination of my long journey but merely the beginning. For the parking arrangements were not sufficient at all and there was a heavy police presence, fork-lifting the illegally parked vehicles.
Although I had planned my visit and arrived before the peak hours, it took me nearly half an hour to find a parking spot and that too was a good fifteen-minute walk away from the main entrance.
After finally making my way, I sought to buy tickets but was stopped by the event staff. This, an organiser informed me, was part of their policy. Only the ladies were allowed to approach the ticket booth -- well, the ticket cost was a hefty Rs200 per head.
Once inside, the vendors had you more than compensated, peddling their food for an amount far below than what you would normally find at their establishments around the city. Even the priciest of food was being sold at Rs300, enabling even those with modest means to sample food which otherwise would have been way above their budget.
I stumbled upon my old household employee and met him and his family sampling fish tacos. My brief chat with him was proof for me that the festival was not meant to cater to a specific fragment of the society but for everyone.
Now onto to the real star of the show -- the food! And, it was truly something to beholden. As soon as you entered the main area, you were greeted by a waft of aromas, sizzles of the pan and colours of the food and fashion, tantalising your senses.
The variety of food on display was staggering and featured an eclectic mix of traditional, modern and fusion grub. What was heartening to see was Lahoris stepping out of their comfort zone to try newer fare. Sure, the tried and tested classics such as the legendary Waris Nehari or Cosa Nostra had their share of customers but the longest lines were reserved for stalls which had taken a risk and gone a more unconventional route. ‘Awesamosas,’ with their reimagination of what a samosa can be, stuffed with chocolate, french onion and various other fillings, Chef Muneeze Khalid with her ‘Churro’ and ‘Sarak pe Karak,’ a shop exclusively offering various flavours of tea such as Karak, Zafran, Masala, Chocolate and Chai Latte, were the stalls that captured the attention of the public the most. There was even a stall dedicated to authentic Hunza food.
However, as great as the food was, the attitude of the people attending the event was even greater. The festival was representative of more than just the food and reflected the mood of the citizens of Lahore as well. It was a reminder that Lahoris have been starved for entertainment and yearn for a break from the monotomy of everyday life.