Culinary Conversations

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Tucson Meet Yourself Food Demonstration
Tucson Meet Yourself Food Demonstration

As time draws closer for the 40th anniversary TMY festival, Cultural Kitchen Coordinator Priscilla Mendenhall gives us her teaser about what’s cooking:

It is pretty clear why we have a hard time deciding what to call the Kitchen – Culture, Heritage, Foodways or Food Traditions? This year’s 25 food demonstrators and six moderators represent all of the above, and all that is increasingly wonderful about the Tucson food scene!

Friday, October 11
At 11am we begin with Indo-fusion chimichangas by Billy Hazra of the Elephant and the Eagle. We segue into Tepary Beans, with moderator Linda Berzok, author of Storied Dishes, Quetzalli Bartholomaei of Mother Hubbard’s Café and Carolyn Niethammer, writer of The Prickly Pear and other local cookbooks. They are followed by Ethiopian red lentil stew, Egyptian scorched eggplant caviar, Jamaican rice and peas (Duwayne Hall, D’Island Café), Syrian stuffed squash and eggplant and Native American chorizo/egg burros (Sylvia Gonzales, Santa Rosa Café). In the middle of all this, the 3:30 session is Chiltepin: The Mother of all Chiles, led by Charles deConcini, master grower and featuring Gloria Badilla’s Chiltepica’s salsas, cooled by Rani Olson’s (Food Ascension Café)chiltepin chocolate ice cream.

Saturday, October 12
Having survived the fiery chiltepin heat, we re-convene Saturday morning with Carolyn Niethammer, Cheri Romanoski and Laurie Melrood, three “Local and Wild” gurus cooking up prickly pear cheese cake, cholla bud/nopalito salad and mesquite tortillas. Congolese lenga lenga (amaranth stew) and Swedish spritz cookies move us towards Globally Gluten Free garbanzo chocolate cake (Gourmet Girls and the Cel Kids), and soft/deep fried plaintains. Saturday afternoon also includes Iraqi parsley/bulgur tabaulleh salad and meat-filled pastries as well as Russian beet vinaigrette salad, not forgetting the southern soul food being featured as part of the Soul Pantry Concert beginning at 7pm that evening.

Sunday, October 13
Sunday is a Sonoran day — Sonoran flat enchilladas, a panel on Sonoran wheat (complete with Ramona Farms, Hayden Mills and Borderland Brewery) and cheeses of the Sonoran region from Chiva Risa Goat Ranch and Avalon Gardens, introduced by Tana Fryer of Blu, Tucson’s first independent cheese-monger. Not limiting ourselves, we intersperse local flavor with two from further afield, Indian egg curry and Malaysian percik chicken salad.

TMY is often called Tucson Eat Yourself. While we have worn that nickname in good fun, we also recognize that it can be also offer a one-sided, perhaps even stereotypical, view of the festival. This is why this year we are making food a key thematic and programmatic element, and not just a sideshow. We like to think that the Culture Kitchen really exemplifies this renewed effort. Join us… to learn, interact with the cooks and sample some of Tucson’s most innovative and authentic cuisines.

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