On Sunday, June 19th Reboot set up shop at the Egg Creams, Egg Rolls and Empanadas Festival hosted by Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side. Celebrating the rich, multicultural immigrant history of the neighborhood, the annual festival welcomed a diverse visitor population to learn about and honor the Jewish, Chinese, and Hispanic traditions held by residents of the Lower East Side.
At the Reboot table, Marketing Associate, Rob Simakovsky and I donned our aprons to collect recipes and host a raffle for Beyond Bubbie. Striking up conversations with festival-goers about mealtime rituals and family memories, visitors to our table painted a multigenerational, multicultural portrait of their own relationships with Jewish foodways.
Exemplary of the spirit of the festival, Anita Fein shared this story:
Before my husband and I were married, I was invited to my future in-laws to dinner. I’m Chinese and he’s Jewish. I made and served fried wonton.
“Kreplach!” exclaimed my father-in-law.
“Wonton!” I said.
“In my house they’re wonton!”
He smiled and we had a great relationship until he passed away in 2009.
At Father’s Day dinner that evening over vegetable lo-mein, my dad reminisced about staying up all night to the click-clacking of his Jewish mother’s mahjong tiles from the kitchen table, my grandfather spoke of his youth on the Lower East Side, shopping for his mother at Essex Street Market, and I sat intently, writing their stories on recipe cards in my mind.
Zoe Penina Baker is a Program Consultant at Reboot, responsible for developing and implementing events and programming in the greater New York area. As an artist, long-time event coordinator, and Queens native, she has worked for the last 6 years organizing and curating arts programming across New York State. Zoe’s creative practice explores Jewish-feminist themes through interactive food- and textile-based interactive installations. See more of her work here: www.zoepeninabaker.net.