CCSC Partners with Cleary University Detroit Culinary Center To Host Inaugural D’Kalabash Ethnic Food Tasting Event

The Caribbean Community Service Center (CCSC)  held its first annual D’Kalabash Detroit Ethnic Food Tasting Experience on Friday, September 14, 2018, at Cleary University Detroit Culinary Education Center.  The event provided an opportunity to taste signature foods from different cultural traditions. Including the Caribbean, Thailand, East and West Africa and American Soul food.

The aim of the event was  to create community through discussions about food.  “The conversations we want to have are to connect people through food so that we can learn about one another,” said Sophia L. Chue, Executive Director of CCSC.  “We have great conversations when we talk about the similarities in food, instead of talking about the differences in people,” said Chue.

In addition to food tasting, a cooking demonstration was held using Cleary University’s culinary training kitchen.  Also, Tati Amari, of WDIV Channel 4’s “Live in the D” lead a panel discussion on how food, arts, and culture come together and create community.   The panel included Chef Maxwell Hardy, Executive Chef-in-Residence and owner of the Coop Detroit; Serena Marie Daniels, Editor of Tostada Magazine; Mamba Hamissi, Co-owner of Baobab Fare; and Devita Davidson, Executive Director of Detroit Food Lab.   

During the discussion, Mamba Hamissi discussed the powerful influence of food production in his native Burundi.   He stated that although his ethnic group, the Tutsi’s, were in the minority, they served as landowners, while farmers in other ethnic groups did not have land to farm, and they had to use the Tutsi’s land to farm.  As a result, not all of the farmers could afford to eat the food that they grew. He said that from this experience, he understood “what it means to work hard at something and you can’t eat it.”

However, there were commonalities mentioned that connected people to each other.   Many Burundians grow peanuts in their backyard because they don’t have money to buy food.   “You grow peanuts, plantains, or foo foo because it was cheap, and because it is tasty.” He noted that beans was one of his favorite meals because they serve as a bridge between cultures.  They are “the only meal that looks like, cooks like, and feels like it belongs to us.”

CCSC partially funded the event through a Global Soup competition sponsored by the Build Institute. In addition, DKalabash was made possible by the generous support and  in-kind donations of participating restaurants which included the Coop Detroit, Bangkok69 Streetfood, Boabab Fare, Kola Lounge, Maty’s African Restaurant, Cilantro’s Food Truck, Summer Homemade Meals, Rincon Tropical and Island Spice Caribbean and American Cuisine, Anton Swyer Tana, and Paradise Natural Food

The Kalabash served as a fitting metaphor for the event.   A Kalabash is a dried gourd that serves as a natural bowl that can be used to share food with others.   The event proved that people need a container, like a Kalabash, so that all the disparate parts and people can meet, connect and build cross-cultural experiences together.