My passion is exploring the connection between food and culture. I write regularly for Oakland and Alameda Magazines and Berkeleyside's NOSH. My blog, East Bay Ethnic Eats, gives me an excuse to track down the only Bay Area baker making fresh filo dough or learn to stuff a dried eggplant with help from a Turkish immigrant. Culture is the thread that ties together my several careers. As a sign language interpreter, educator and author, my study of Deaf culture has taken me around the world, where I fell madly in love with seed-strewn Danish bread, attacked platters of French shellfish with a small arsenal of tools and sampled a Japanese breakfast so fresh it wiggled. I'm also an epicurean concierge for Edible Excursions Japan town tours (that I lead in either English or ASL). And when I conduct in-depth cultural trainings for foreign workers being transferred to the Bay Area, I am sure to discuss the delights of doggie bags and the mystery of American restaurants serving ice water in the dead of winter. I can be found tweeting @EBEthniceats
While Middle Eastern restaurants abound, Zaki Kabob House in Albany is one of the few that serve specialties of Palestinian cuisine, like spheeha, maklouba and mensaf. Family-owned and run by Fayza and Kameem Ayyad and their children, Zaki offers tastes of another world, plus warm hospitality.
Persian New Year (Norooz or Nowruz) is a 3000 year old celebration, observed around the world on the first day of Spring. Its many traditions include a table of 7 foods that start with "S" in Farsi, and jumping over bonfires. Monier Attar of Zands Market is busily preparing everything her Persian patrons will need for the holiday, from a creamy pudding of sprouted wheat to flower-shaped chickpea flour cookies.
Eating with the hands is more than just a way to maneuver food to the mouth. It embodies cultural values including, a sensuous connection to the food, the feeling of sharing and community, practicality avoiding waste, even prolonging a delicious meal by enjoying the lingering aroma of it on the fingers. Many cultures, such as Indian, Arab and African have dined this way for thousands of years. In a video-clip, the writer receives a hands-on lesson in eating with the hands -- Moroccan style.
Get a retro sugar rush at Powell's Sweet Shoppe. Sugar coated nostalgia in candy you remember from your childhood (from Boomers to Millennials) and even turn of the last century tasty treasures from Abba-Zabba’s to Zotz.
When in Paris, indulge in afternoon tea. The writer and her daughter discover funky, vintage, classic and elegant tea salons: La Fourmi Ailée, MILK, Musee Jacquemart-André and the king of them all, Thé Mariage Frères.
A tasting tour of SF Japantown with Edible Excursions offers a dozen sweet and savory samples of not the usual sushi and tempura. Learn about and nibble mochi, okonomiyaki pancake, taiyaki fish shaped pastries, seaweed salads, onigiri rice balls and sweet potato lattes.
To help combat exponential increases in hunger and demand for food assistance, the Alameda County Community Food Bank feeds 49,000 people a week. Its volunteers range from school children to retired Stanford University professors. They bag fresh produce, sort cans and fill boxes with essential foodstuffs.
Berkeley's Nordic House offers Danes, Swedes and Norwegians many tastes of home. Holiday foods hold a special place in Scandinavian hearts and Nordic House carries glogg, aeblskiver and rice pudding mixes plus Swedish brined hams, Norwegian pork ribs and Danish pork with crispy skin.
Mozzeria, a new deaf-owned Italian restaurant, will bring wood fired pizza to the Mission. Owners Melody and Russell Stein have imported a 5000-pound Stefano Ferrara oven from Napoli and will serve pizza, pasta and small plates in their cozy new eatery -- where both deaf and hearing patrons can dine comfortably in a mix of vintage and modern styles.
Sweet treats in food-obsessed Singapore come hot and cold, taking fantastic forms: from warm chunks of yam and chewy jellies swimming in coconut milk to mountains of ice, drizzled in neon syrup, topped with red beans, corn and peanuts.
Want to learn to whip up a fiery Ethiopian stew, sublime Italian greens, lively Russian piroshki or zesty Malaysian noodles? A cornucopia of ethnic cooking classes are waiting for you in kitchens sprinkled all over the Bay Area. Here's a round-up of ten local ethnic cooking classes rich with flavor and tradition.