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City's first internationally flavored night market is Saturday evening at The Round

TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Wambui Machua drizzles gravy over the top of a crockpot meal she served with ugali, a simple boiled cornbread often served in her native Kenya. Machua will serve more time-intensive dishes at her Spices of Africa booth at Saturdays Beaverton Night Market.Soup's on!

OK, maybe not soup, but how about ugali, chapati bread and samosa pastries?

The first-ever Beaverton Night Market debuts this Saturday.

The multicultural evening marketplace features international food and craft vendors and cultural performances from 5 to 10 p.m. in the plaza at The Round, 12600 S.W. Crescent Drive next to the Beaverton Central MAX stop.

Admission is free.

The Beaverton Night Market is patterned after night markets popular in many cultures around the world. This market will bring the world to Beaverton, with food and handcrafted works by regional residents with roots from across the globe.

By all accounts, the Night Market will likely be a rousing success. Already more than 4,000 people have said they are planning to attend through a Facebook event alone, so taking MAX to the market might be wise.

“I’m looking forward to another opportunity to bring our community together in celebration of our cultural diversity,” Mayor Denny Doyle said.

The city’s Diversity Advisory Board is organizing the 2015 market as a one-day pilot event, with the goal of turning it into a regular seasonal night market designed to foster cross-cultural exchange, create economic opportunities and showcase cultural traditions.

The market is part of the Beaverton Celebration weekend, which includes a 5K run and the Beaverton Celebration Parade, both Saturday morning, and Bike Beaverton on Sunday.

The market also kicks off local activities associated with National Welcoming Week. Other events include a Naturalization Ceremony on Monday, a Citizenship Corner Open House on Tuesday, Human Rights Advisory Commission Cultural Conversations on Sept. 17, and a LESTA “Cuentos y Canciones” (Stories and Songs) on Sept. 19.

Tastes from Africa

Wambui Machua quickly stirs cornmeal into boiling water in her Beaverton-area kitchen to show guests how she makes ugali, a type of cornbread that people in her native Kenya would serve to stretch an everyday meal.TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Wambui Machua quickly stirs a pot of ugali, a simple boiled cornbread often served in her native Kenya.

The dishes that Machua will make for the Night Market, by contrast, will take a lot more preparation. That’s because she will treat those who stop at her Spice of Africa booth as special guests with chapati bread served with lentel curry dip, triangle-shaped samosa pastries filled with vegetables or meat, and Kenyan spiced ice tea to wash it down.

“All the things that are time-consuming are reserved for special guests,” says Machua, 44, who first came to the United States as a teenage tourist and exchange student, and later returned as an artist-turned-chef.

“I started cooking by the time I was 10 years old, not by choice of my own,” she says, noting that cooking and housework were considered women’s jobs at the time she was growing up in Gachie, a village outside of Kenyan capital Nairobi.

When she returned to Portland as a young adult, she created African artwork that she sold from booths at community markets and fairs. Again and again, potential customers would praise her creations and pledge to return to buy something.

“They would come back and they would have spent all their money on food,” she says.

A light went on and Machua switched from making African art to food. She now has a regular booth at the Montavilla Farmers Market in Portland, caters for various clients (including the city of Beaverton) and teaches cooking classes at Portland Community College.

She will take a break from all that soon. A few weeks after serving her African specialties in Beaverton, Machua and her 12-year-old daughter, Makayla, will return to Gachie for six months to oversee construction of a library and community center there, a project supported by the Beaverton Rotary Club.

TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Ming Chang, a dance instructor, shows a student how to finish a movement as members of the Formosa Association of Student Cultural Ambassadors prepare for a performance at Saturdays Beaverton Night Market.

Taiwanese culture on stage

The next day, just across town at the Beaverton Activity Center but a cultural world away, students of Taiwanese descent toss Chinese yo-yos in one room and dance kung-fu-inspired steps and wave heavy yellow flags in another.

The teenaged members of the Formosa Association of Student Cultural Ambassadors — nearly three-quarters of them from the Beaverton area — are practicing a new routine they will unveil at the Beaverton Night Market.

“OK. You guys are pretty good now,” shouts dance instructor Ming Chang.

“I want people to know what Taiwan is,” says Curtis Lin, 16, of Bethany, a junior at Sunset High School who serves as FASCA’s student president.

“A lot of people don’t really know that much about Asian culture,” agreed former president Colin Chao, 17, a senior at Beaverton’s School of Science and Technology. “People assume everyone’s from China.”

Like students in FASCA, the boys’ parents were born and raised in Taiwan before coming to the U.S.

Patience Liu, the group’s mentor, said FASCA grew out of a cultural exchange project from the Overseas Community Affairs Council based in the Republic of China, better known here as Taiwan (formerly Formosa).

“The original idea is to try to promote the culture, and especially Taiwanese culture, to the mainstream community,” Liu said.

FASCA started with just a few students four years ago but has quickly grown to 41 students from across the Portland area. Twenty-nine of those attend Beaverton-area schools.

Liu said FASCA has performed throughout the area, but the invitation to showcase their culture at the first Beaverton Night Market was a special opportunity.

“The number one thing to do in Taiwan is to go to the night market,” she said. “It’s our honor to be able to perform” in Beaverton.

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