By Michael Shamlian
If you haven’t been to Philly since the last AYF Olympics held here in 2010, you have missed a revolution. The city that used to only be famous for cheese steaks and soft pretzels now features a plethora of excellent eating establishments. This change has not gone unnoticed by the Olympic concessions/picnic committee. We have been meeting and planning on how to best deliver a taste of this heightened culinary experience to the throngs of AYFers and supporters that will be descending upon our beloved city this Labor Day weekend.
First, you should know this. The AYF Olympic picnic is one of my favorite events of the weekend. How often do you get to listen and dance to live Armenian music while wearing comfortable clothes, all while eating excellent food?! The problem is, by the time the picnic rolls around on Monday, everyone is too tired (read hung-over) or anxious to get home to truly enjoy such an amazing event.
We have the solution – host a full-fledged family picnic on Saturday during the softball tournament. We are talking about lamb shish kebab, shish tawouk (chicken) and falafel along with the usual burgers and hotdogs. There will also be Philly favorites available, including soft pretzels and Tastycake desserts to give you some local flavor. As an added bonus, there is a huge playground there so that future AYFers can join in the fun as well. Not to mention all the excitement that comes with the AYF softball tournament! Add in the Massoyan Band playing live Armenian music and DJ TacTics (Chris Bekmejian) spinning the latest dance tunes, and you have an epic Saturday that will hopefully become an Olympic tradition.
One note, although this is a beautiful facility that seems custom made for this event, parking is extremely limited so you are strongly encouraged to take the bus to and from softball.
The picnic/concession committee will also be serving a similar menu on Sunday at the track and field competition and will have snacks and beverages available Friday night at swimming. While we wanted to offer basterma or sujoukh and egg sandwiches in the hotel lobby for you to grab and go before hitting the road on Monday morning, the hotel said “voch”. In lieu of that, the hotel will make food available for you to take on the road or you can hit the Reading Terminal market across the street for some excellent breakfast choices.
There you have it – if you weren’t convinced to come for the competition, camaraderie, or fraternalism associated with this weekend, come for the food.