Karachi Eat 2022: Against all odds

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If there is one public event that faced major public outcry over the last few days, it was Karachi Eat Food Festival 2022. Returning after two years, the festival was set to take place at Beach View Park, Karachi, from 14th to 16th January. The concerns were valid, of course. Karachi’s Covid positivity rate is up to almost 30% and large gatherings should be avoided. However, the team behind Karachi Eat 2022 chose to stick to their original plan with a promise to abide by Covid SOPs to keep their visitors safe. Having visited the festival on Day 2, it is safe to say that the management stood by their promise.

There are only a handful of activities Karachiites can indulge in on a Saturday afternoon. With the weather in our favor and no scorching sun making it unbearable to be out in the open, 3 pm turned out to be the perfect time to enjoy good food, while avoiding big crowds as well. Tickets had to be purchased online prior to arriving at the venue, which meant that no long queues were found at the gate. Multiple checkpoints from the entrance of the park to the entrance of the Festival ensured that each visitor was carrying a vaccination certificate with them. While no temperature checks were done, we were made to walk through a sanitization gate. Numerous volunteers could also be found on the ground, reminding attendees to put on their face masks.

Being at a food festival of course meant that masks had to come down at some point. That is where the lounges set up in the center of the ground, or family tables and benches propped up along the corners came to play. With each table distinctly spaced out from the rest, families could bring their food to their chosen spot and enjoy their meals in peace.

With 96 food stalls present, Karachi Eat 2022 presented a variety of items to choose from. Be it desi or fast food, waffles, or snacks like churros and nachos, the festival had a little bit of everything. And when we needed a break from eating, we could check out jewelry stalls, play games or simply take pictures at the photo booths set up by brands like Shoop and Shan.

Priced at Rs.300, the falsa sorbet from Lieta Natural Gelato turned out to be the perfect refreshment when the sun was out, while the Fire Paan from Panwaari literally lit one’s mouth on fire. The paan may have been a little pricey, but it was probably the experience that was being cashed on. The Nugget Town had a fun challenge for their visitors in the form of The TNT Challenge. Claiming to be Pakistan’s hottest challenge, it required one to eat five extra spicy nuggets within two minutes, followed by a three-minute burning period during which no napkins or drinks were allowed. If completed, the customer gets their Rs.500 cash back. While I may have had tears rolling down my eyes after one nugget, TNT was surprised to see my friend finish the challenge!

Nashville Style Nugs from TNT

After devouring down Gol Gappay, Crepe, Lemonade which came in a hookah bottle (ridiculously priced at Rs.950), we found our way to the star of the evening: The House of PWC. Even though there were at least three stalls offering waffles, PWC caught my eye with their marketing for ‘Waffles on a Stick’. Priced at Rs.400, the Lotus Waffle melted in my mouth like a dream. The waffles were warm, soft and tasted very much like lotus.

Gol Gappay from Punjabian Dhaba

To make the Festival safer, no musical performances were planned for the day, while Shahi Foods did entertain their visitors with a flash mob on Day 1. Stars like Kubra Khan, Ali Rehman and Dino were spotted on Day 2, promoting the festival and enjoying good food.

Many may have been skeptical about Karachi Eat 2022 taking place despite all warnings, but perhaps the festival was needed by small business owners who have suffered enough because of the pandemic. If there is one thing Karachi knows how to do, it is to persevere against all odds and make delicious food. Safe to say, Karachi Eat managed to do both.