“What does home taste like?” Tamika Francis, chef and founder of Food & Folklore, asked the crowd.
More than two dozen diners at her Islamic diaspora pop-up dinner in February mulled over the question and stitched together the memories, tastes and smells that make up their personal food origin stories. Some offered up a word, or a place and others shared at their tables.
Food & Folklore pays homage to indigenous food, farm traditions and food producers typically from the non-European diasporas, and the answer to Francis’ inquiry — no matter how varied — is the overarching theme of her work: people, food and stories.
At the Islamic dinner featuring Somali chef Yahya Noor, owner of Tawakal Halal Cafe, and chef and food activist Ismail Samad, the diverse crowd learned about Muslim etiquette, heard personal stories from the chefs and dined on a traditional multicourse meal.
A verse from the Quran hung on the wall at host restaurant Mei Mei, and cards that directed guests to use their right hand and not eat in excess amongst other details topped the tables. The meal — with plump dates, briny olives, halal meat, vegetables and rice — was punctuated with insight from Noor, Francis and Samad with crowd participation.