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September 2017

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Muslim Cultural Festival!

Very late Saturday night my neighbor texted me that she was making food for the Taste of Muslim Culture festival the next day, Sunday, 30 April, from noon to 4pm. In the Beverly J Martin Elementary School gym.


Gulsum and her friends were running the Turkish table. I was very excited to go. I would not have been able to go if I didn't have my scooter, and my sister Gina's van, and the lift they got me. Also I would have been nervous if I didn't know anyone. I'm really glad I have made friends with Gulsum, she is such nice person.

When I got to the school I found out most of the streets were blocked off for the Streets Alive Festival to celebrate El Día de la Batalla de Puebla! What most people call Cinco De Mayo.

I finally figured out where the handicapped entrance to the school was and found a parking space. Then my scooter lift stopped working halfway out. I was sitting there with the scooter lift hanging out of the back of the van. It wouldn't go in or out. I didn't know what to do. I called my BIL David for advice but he didn't answer. So I called Gulsum and asked if there were any strong young men around who could help. (It's amazing how willing I am to call upon strong young men now that I can't do things for myself.)

She came out with a nice young man from the festival. A stranger to her. Who looked at the lift and couldn't find any electrical problems. He advised me to go around the corner, through a road block, and park in a no parking zone so some other men from the festival could come come have a look. I did so, with the scooter hanging out of the back of the van.

A bunch of men from the festival came by to poke and prod at the lift. One of them was a bus driver who was familiar with lifts and pointed out an access port for a manual override. But the manual override required a crank I didn't have. I got the men to take the scooter off the lift so I could go inside and get some lunch. As soon as they did so they were able to get the lift working again. We closed up the van and I started to go inside.

But it turned out that the elevator in the school was key operated and no one could find the custodian who had the key. I sat around with another woman who had a walker while they looked for a key. Eventually a teacher came by who had a spare key and I finally got up to the right floor. Who puts a gym on the second floor of a building anyway?!?! (The woman in charge of the festival was very distressed about the key thing. She had been assured she would have a key.)

I had checked out the event page on Facebook before I went. I know it would cost at least $10 for a "tasting tray". When I got there I found out it was $10 for a three item tray and $15 for a 5 item tray. I paid the $15 and was given a tray and 5 tickets that I could redeem for food items at any of the tables.


This is the Beverly J Martin Elementary School gym. I tried to get a shot of the hustle and bustle of the room without focusing on any one individual.

There are tables all around the edge with food from different countries. Each food table is from a different country. Egypt, Pakistan, Palestine, West Africa (Gambia), Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and more.


There are lots more pictures of the event at the Al Huda Islamic Center facebook page.

In the corner behind me there was a henna table.


And a table for trying on Muslim clothes, and a photo booth. There were a lot of beautiful embroidered outfits all over the people in the room.



There was also a table selling books about Islam. Mostly children's books and introduction books.


And there was a table about Ithaca Murals featuring a local Muslim artist.


Gulsum was kind enough to hold my tray and my tickets as I went around the room trying to decide where to spend my 5 tickets.


Where to start! The Bowl on the right is Ful Medames (Fava Bean Soup) with a drizzle of olive oil, from Saudi Arabia. The food in the large section with the salad on top is Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce) The National dish of Egypt. The next dish to the left is Jollof Rice from Gambia, I don't remember where I got the bread it came with something else. Above that is the Musakhan Roll and Sfiha (Lahm Bi'ajeen) (Flat Lamb Pies) a type of meat pie with pomegranates, and pine nuts from Palestine. The two cups on the tray are desserts. One is rice pudding (several of the tables had rice pudding). The other is Turkish Noah's Pudding (Aşure) made from grains, beans (including chickpeas) dried fruit and fresh pomegranate seeds. The next two items were from Bangladesh they are similar to Indian desserts I have tried. The diamond is Chickpea Fudge (Besan Ki Barfi) I recognized the word Barfi from when I was trying to make Indian Carrot fudge. The cylinder next to is Gulab Jamun (fried milk soaked in syrup). If you have never tried Indian Fried milk you really should. The cup outside the tray that looks like apple cider is actually Jamu an Indonesian Turmeric drink. It also has ginger in it. It is very refreshing. And it is supposed to be good for you.

Next year I need to get there early before all the best dishes are gone. And bring more money and a few friends so we can try more dishes.

And I'm going to sign up for the cookbook they are making.
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