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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Something About Akindele Bankole

I stumbled upon an article on KQED's webpage about restaurateur Akindele Bankole, a vegan restaurant owner with a stunning list of accomplishments. I was fascinated by his story and purpose.

Akindele is a Jewish, German-born, Nigerian-American, a classical singer and composer, and has over two decades in the food industry. He is the primary owner of Veg On The Edge, Inc., a West African Inspired vegan, gluten-free, kosher and mostly-organic restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz, CA.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel was as impressed as we were.  As was The Jewish News of Northern California. It isn't just his achievements that draw you in, it's his warmth, laugh, and generosity of spirit.

We sat down to chat in the courtyard outside his eatery in A Compassionate Edge. There is no doubt that this man is a genuine gift as you listen to his stories about his food-filled life and the love he has for his family and all mankind.

Akindele, we adore you!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-Things We Know

"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm."-Abraham Lincoln

When we started this podcast we knew what we stood for and wanted the show to reflect that. I believe it does. We all have to eat, and there is room for all of us at the table.  Food connects us across political, racial and religious lines. I mean, who doesn't like hummus, right?

After my Round the World Journey I wanted to continue the food-filled conversation. I didn't have an "Eat Pray Love" moment when I was traveling. Rather, I found the best conversations and connections in the warm hospitality around a table. This podcast is my opportunity to spread that feeling. We find folks who interest us, no matter their profession, find out what food means to them and share the experience.

My chat with Oxford-bound, social justice advocate, and food-loving lady Nadeen Ibrahim  is a perfect example.

Another belief we hold is that there should be food for all. On that note, we encourage you to follow the Hunger Is campaign.

We also highlight Good Food News stories, like a Houston School District feeding every student three meals a day after the hurricane.

Sustainability isn't just a trendy catchword to us and we are always looking for ways to promote it like they do at The Food Empowerment Project.

Restaurant work fills up a good portion of my resume, and I believe a living wage isn't something we need to debate, but enact. So does Fight for $15.

What I want most of all is to invite everyone to the table. I hope you'll join us and bring some friends.
Now go eat something will ya?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Good Food News-Ending Childhood Hunger

Food insecurity is a massive and growing problem. I am always on the lookout for those helping to eradicate it. Good Black News highlights one of the most recognizable voices here.

Oscar and Emmy Award-winning actress Viola Davis is using her star power to speak out and raise awareness as the Ambassador for the Hunger Is campaign. This powerful star has spearheaded a campaign that has raised more than $20 million since 2014 to help provide meals for children all over the country who normally do not have enough to eat.

In the words of Hunger Is: "We will take ownership of hunger here. By investing our time, energy and resources, we can be part of the solution to end childhood hunger. We can fill bellies. Turn fear into hope. Opportunities to succeed will no longer be diminished by a problem that is within our power to solve."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Something About Chef Kelly Newlon?

We here at Something About Food? are on hiatus until mid-February. We have more amazing folks lined up for interviews in Season 3, including an all-star eater from the NBA, a groundbreaking tradeswoman, and an Olympic gold medalist.
As we prep away, we are looking back at some past guests and giving them a shout out on their latest exploits.
This week are all about Chef Kelly Newlon. We interviewed Chef Kelly in "Run To the Table", Episode 4, about her company RAD Boulder, ultra running and feeding athletes.

Her newest passion,  The Athletes' Coalition, is a non-profit that advocates for and assists individual athletes with negotiations, career planning, and post-career guidance. They focus on athletes and sports that are typically under-served in these areas.
You can also find them on Instagram @theathletescoalition and on Twitter @TACoalition

Yes Chef!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-Old Tomboy

It is easy for me to believe that I'll be 50 in a few months. A number that doesn't faze me, truly, because as I get older I have less and less fucks to give.

Being told from a young age that what you feel and do aren't right is a universal female experience, I am sure. And I am no longer having it.

I have always been a tomboy. Jeans, sneakers and short hair were what the boys got and I wanted that too. Dresses were abhorrent to me, I was allergic to tights; they weren't freedom, they were as binding for me as much as the things I was told. "Stay in the house and play house, here is a doll, stop wrestling with your brothers". "For crying out loud, get down out of that tree," while my brothers laughed as they went higher.

And I rebelled. When my mother finally relented I cut off my hair. I've had many, not so great hair experiences since then, but I no longer had to deal with twigs in the hair that hung down to my rear. I didn't have to sit still for my mom to scrape a brush or comb through my "rat's nests". A pixie cut is my go to now, and though I try from time to time to "soften it up" I eventually tire of all that nonsense and get back to easy, messy and short.

I would, when young, wear dresses for special occasions, stubbornly, but never for anything else. I didn't know shit about what to wear. My oldest brothers jeans, concert t-shirts, army jackets, that was my uniform. But even that wasn't all me.

I also paint my toenails and ALWAYS wear earrings. Perhaps that surprises you? My version of tomboy is just that, mine. Eye makeup is not unheard of and I do love a push-up bra, I mean I have a killer rack! I do me.

Chuck Taylors can be dressy in my world, but so can brogues or oxfords. There is still a kilt in my repertoire, though I have yet to find just the right pair of boots to wear with it. And I hold onto one pair of wedge heeled boots, because I really like them, though I'll probably break an ankle the next time I wear them.

My identity is that of a heterosexual, cisgendered tomboy. I adore men. Can't figure the bastards out, but I adore them still. My style is ever evolving like I hope my life is, in tandem.

50 is only a number. I don't have to fit anyone's box or stereotype. I have been finding more and more inspiration from my older icons like Patti Smith and the late Wendy O Williams (who didn't need a push-up bra when she had electrical tape). There are gals now doing their thing their way, like Sara Jane Adams and Lena Waithe, who show me that being all me is all I need to be.

And this is what I want to ultimately be, without a filter. When I am 80 I will be the dame, who when going to visit family or friends, will be spoken of thusly: "Hide the chocolate and don't let her swear around the kids."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Good Food News-Syrian Bakers

On the website Civil Eats there is an article about the ways that Syrian refugees in Norway, Toronto, and Phoenix are struggling to make a living abroad with their native culinary skills and traditions.

With the backdrop of the long, complex Syrian wheat crisis, these immigrants are trying to keep their traditional bread and pastry recipes alive, often without permanent kitchens or physical baking spaces.

Classes and intergenerational baking lessons are helping “give them a sense of family when they are far away from home.” It's a sweet way to share their culture with the next generation and the new neighbors in their adoptive lands.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Flavorful Stigma

Kimberly Jung is many things: an Afghanistan Veteran, a Harvard Business School graduate, and a tiramisu aficionado (with her own tiramisu hack!). Along with two of her fellow veterans, she is also a cofounder of Rumi, a spice company committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering that country’s economy.

I am very much a fan of her mission and passion. Our chat covers her time in the service, growing up in LA's Chinatown and of course where to find the world's premiere saffron. Savior "A Flavorful Stigma" on Episode 20,of Something About Food?

Kimberly Jung is the CEO and co-founder of Rumi. While serving in the US military, Kim was an Engineer Officer who led a route clearance platoon in the Wardak and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan in 2010-2011. She also served with provincial reconstruction teams as a female engagement team member to help empower Afghan village women. She earned her bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy in 2008 and holds a Professional Engineering license in Mechanical Engineering from the State of California. She graduated with her MBA from Harvard Business School in 2015. Kim volunteers her time with Girl Scouts, youth volleyball, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Rumi sources the world’s premier saffron. Their delicate, fragrant saffron graces the tables and kitchens of The French Laundry, Daniel, Le Bernardin, Bouley, and the Culinary Institute of America. The co-founders are former Army officers who served combat tours in Afghanistan. After leaving the military, they felt that they still had unfinished business to support Afghanistan and its people. They founded Rumi Spice to work directly with Afghan farmers to import exceptionally high-quality saffron. In Afghanistan, they've hired 1952 Afghan women, run three processing facilities, and have over 90 farmers in their network. They make up 3.6% of Afghanistan’s total foreign direct investment in agriculture. Visit their website and read recent articles about Rumi in the New York Times, CNBC, and Food & Wine.

A few of these dumplings were mentioned in our conversation.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-A Portion of It

I adore an Indian Buffet. You don't even know. It gives me a chance to try things I might not be willing to shell out the $$ for to try as a stand-alone dish. And it literally feeds into my binge eating disorder.

Let me explain what that means for me. When I get stressed out in any way, good, bad or weird, I want to eat. Actually, not just want; there is a need, a force that compels me to eat. I don't always even want what I'm eating, I just do it as an instinctive response that I developed unconsciously from when I was around 11.

That was when my dad left for the final time, puberty hit and I had no coping mechanisms for this perfect storm. I didn't think there was anyone to talk to, anyone who would listen to the sadness, anger, and fear that were roiling inside of me.

After collecting my paper route money, I would stop off  at a small store to buy packaged brownies, Cheetos and a Sprite, which I then shoved down my face before I headed home to give the rest of the money I earned to my mother to help pay for milk for the family.

There were also the baggies of cake decorating supplies, sprinkles, chocolate chips and coconut, hidden in my sock drawer for me to shove into my face when someone in the family erupted in anger because we didn't know how to process the craziness that was thrust into our lives.

That bingeing carried on into college, where pizza and wings were a Buffalo tradition, and I used that to my advantage. My drinking, binge drinking, became almost professional.

So you see, bingeing was something I didn't know how to stop.

I've spent years working on it. Sobriety was the first step, 13 years ago. Now I don't have food around me that will trigger a binge: no chocolate, no cookies, no chips, not even crackers.

Now I'm working on portion control-  I go into a restaurant with the plan that I will cut my meal in half and take rest home. I even look up the menu ahead of time to see what will work for me.

This may seem obsessive. "Lighten up", some say, "Live a little!". But when I do think "I deserve this doughnut. I need this cheese-covered pizza", it can end up being more than one doughnut or slice of pizza.

My Normal, for right now, is continual watchfulness over my stress levels, my portions, and my health. For me, this works to keep me healthy in mind and body.

Hopefully, it will eventually become just another portion of a healthy life.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Good Food News-Houston Free Lunch

Here is a wonderful story from Saveur magazine about a Texas school district that is helping its students after Hurricane Harvey dumped a crippling 50 inches of rain on the region in August.
The Houston Independent School District announced that all of its students will eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and supper) for free during the 2017-2018 school year. The district received approval from the US and TX  Departments of Agriculture, and  federal, state and district authorities are working as one to ensure everyone eats.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Poetry and Pupusas

Javier is a Salvadoran poet that I read about in a New Yorker magazine article. I was intrigued by his youth, his harrowing immigration story and his poetry that delves into those experiences.

He was very game to chat as he’s a food lover like you wouldn’t believe! We talk about his grandmother's cooking, Hawaiian restaurants, and karaoke love in “Poetry and Pupusas”, Episode 19 of Something About Food?.

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to this country at the age of nine. A Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford, he is the winner of numerous awards and fellowships; his first poetry collection, Unaccompanied, was published in September by Copper Canyon Press.  You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @jzsalvipoet.

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This is not a plate of pupusas; it is, however, the salad I had in Cambodia that we chatted about. Go listen and find out all about it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-2017

Well 2017, you have been one surprising year.

In January I marched in Washington with family and friends:

In the following months I also marched in Denver for our Muslim friends, Planned Parenthood and Science:

Finished writing my book about my Around the World Trip, and took lot's of recipe pics for it.

So many pictures...coming soon...

Started a podcast with a good buddy. And we've got over 17 episodes and 2000 downloads!

Visited with and was visited by friends and family:

Got some runs in:

And ate a whole ton of food.

And I can now say something I never ever thought I would say. Red Cabbage tastes pretty damn good when juiced. (Mixed with other fruits and veg, of course, I mean I haven't gone off into the total hippy deep end....yet...).

I absolutely moved forward in 2017. And as always, I'll keep working on my motto, Be Better.