This week’s Tip is to take a leap of faith and food. As many of us are starting to go back to restaurants (while socially distancing of course), this is a perfect time to try a new cuisine. Try the food, then introduce yourself to the owner. Are these family recipes? Who’s the chef? How are they doing through COVID? Their story might just change your entire perspective.
An Unexpected Journey
Back in 2017, my husband and I wanted to try a new type of “ethnic” food as an adventure. Based on a popular blog, we tried Uighur cuisine, a group of Asian Muslims who live in the Western part of China. That’s all we knew when we sat down and asked our server about what’s good. We didn’t know anything about our hosts or traditions.
It was a tiny, 2-table restaurant. We struck up a conversation with the folks next to us, who had recently arrived in the States and were looking for a taste of home. They told us first-hand what they had experienced and how all communications with their families had been cut off. They were scared, but hopeful for the future. They introduced us to the owner and together they proudly helped us understand what we were eating – a delicious Halal fusion of Eastern and Mediterranean food.
As you may know from the news, the Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority in Western China. They are undergoing a horrific “re-education” and genocide from the Chinese government. The few refugees who are able to make it to America are keeping their traditions and unique food alive with pride through their restaurants.
An Experience Makes a Difference
I have never forgotten their story, and as a Jew it speaks to me. Their experience is directly related to the Holocaust, to the hatred and racism that we are fighting in North America. Our family now regularly donates to charities supporting the Uighurs and I also patronize Uighur restaurants regularly – the noodles taste great in person or in COVID-safe takeout.
It all started with a leap of food and friendship.
How does taking a leap of faith and food fight hate?
Making a personal connection with someone of a different background dissolves the misunderstandings and stereotypes that are the seeds of hate. Getting to know someone who has such pride in their heritage that they have started a restaurant for others to enjoy it gives you a first-hand experience that you will never forget.
If you want to receive future Tips in your inbox, Sign Up under Participate.