Friday, August 2, 2013

Crab Enchilado Feast keeps local culinary traditions alive

Posted By on Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 3:33 PM

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Spanish flavors, Italian recipes and soul-food staples combines forces to create the melting pot that is Tampa's cuisine. The influence of other cultures on traditional Tampa food is particularly evident in the dish Crab Chilau (Crab Enchilado), which has had a prominent culinary presence in Tampa households since the 1870s.

As a tribute to the traditional dish — and one of the closing events of the annual month-long Cuban Sandwich Show — the first annual Tampa Enchilado Feast will take place this Saturday, Aug. 3, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Tampa Cruis-A-Cade Club. Michelle Faedo, of Faedo’s On-The-Go food truck, will cook up the Crab Enchilado creations.

The fusion food consists of jumbo crab simmered for over ten hours in spicy tomato sauce and served over pasta or rice. According to Faedo, the origins of the dish are culturally and historically influenced.

“When they started making it, there was a meat shortage,” said Faedo. “So, they had to go to our waters and bays because crab was so plentiful. Italians began adding crab to pasta sauce instead of meat.”

The Crab Enchilado tradition has been perpetuated by younger generations of Tampa residents who wanted to maintain the customs with which they were raised.

“It was wonderful being able to grow up to see my grandmother cook it, and see how many people she made happy and what a party it was,” Faedo said. “It was all about having fun catching crab and taking time to appreciate what you have.”

Ideally located directly on the waters of the Tampa Cruis-A-Cade Club, the Crab Enchilado Feast will be accompanied by fresh Cuban bread and salad. The event will also feature a soundtrack of live music provided by Judy Tampa & Bunko Squad, Linda Pottberg and Crabgrass Cowboys.

Because the feast is a family-friendly event, Faedo will accommodate children who are not sea food fans by providing chicken tender and chicken wings, courtesy of her Faedo’s On-The-Go food truck. Attendees will also be able to purchase deviled crab, sauces and take-home plates from the food truck.

A portion of the proceeds of the event will benefit the Trinity Café, which serves 200 three-course, restaurant-quality meals to the hungry and homeless each day.

Faedo has won the “Best Cuban Sandwich in Florida” award for two consecutive years, and will compete at the National World Food Championship at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas this November.

“I’m very proud of my city,” Faedo said. “It’s all I know, and I think it’s the best city in the world.”

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