Like many, fellow tour guides Scott Weiner and Jeff Orlick were shocked and dismayed by the President's recent executive order banning Muslim refugees from seven countries - Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. So with the help of Serhan Ayhan (the owner of Boston Pizza in Queens) and Steph Mantis, the ambassador for Slice Out Hunger, they decided to organize and create a group dedicated to supporting and publicizing the culture and food of the people from those affected countries.
Other tour guides, activists, and food historians have become involved, including Max Falkowitz from Saveur, Cindy VandenBosch from Turnstile Tours, and Myra Alperson from Nosh Walks who will be hosting upcoming lunches in further out neighborhoods in the five boroughs. Proceeds from some of the events and distributed maps will go to CAIR - the Council on American Islamic Relations. The upcoming NoshWalk events will benefit the International Rescue Committee.
For a $10 donation, the group will provide a map (a new one released every Friday from now until the ban is lifted) that lists restaurants in the city owned by and serving food from the seven countries affected.
In addition to the map, where you can find great Libyan, Iranian, and Iraqi food yourself, they have already hosted one successful tour. Last Saturday,. marked the first Middle Eats tour which strolled up and down Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill and visited Syrian and Yemeni restaurants, including Damascus Bakery which we visit every week on our Brownstone Brooklyn Tour.
Their second event will be this Saturday at the city's only Somali restaurant. Safari is located in West Harlem and the group has arranged a family style dinner to learn about and experience Somali cuisine. Tickets are now on sale and $50 gets you three courses, plus tax and gratuity. The event will be led by owner and chef Shakib Farah who will share stories about his culture and cuisine. Sign up for tickets here.
Other scheduled events so far include a Yemeni lunch tour in the Bronx and a Syrian lunch tour in Brooklyn. More events will be announced soon.
We agree with Scott and Jeff that the best way to understand another culture is through meeting the people and sharing their food. Breaking Bread is bringing cultures together and creating a deeper understanding. That's something we can get behind, not to mention all the delicious food.
All over New York City,
More information about the group and the events can be found: