Humanities Festival chooses immigrant kitchens for lunch - The Buffalo News
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Humanities Festival chooses immigrant kitchens for lunch

When immigrants make homes in new lands, they bring their families, their stories and their dreams with them. They also bring food, adding flavors of their homeland cuisines to the collective menus of their adopted communities.

That effect is writ large in the restaurants of Buffalo, a city built and shaped by waves of people from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland and elsewhere. Today, a more recent wave of immigrants from Asia and Africa has settled in Buffalo and added their home cooking to the city’s melting pot.

From 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 27, the Buffalo Humanities Festival will explore those cultures and their cooks by tapping the West Side Bazaar’s lineup of Asian and African food stands to make lunch for attendees. The event, at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and the SUNY Buffalo State campus, is titled “Migration Nation: Moving Stories.”

With a series of talks, dance, music and one-on-one conversations with recent immigrants, the event offers opportunities to learn about the “human dimensions of migration.” The schedule includes sessions illuminating cultures including Tuscarora, Cuban, Vietnamese, Polish, African, African-American and Burmese.

Organizers decided to offer people something besides the traditional turkey sandwich, which can still be purchased at the Burchfield Penney café.

“When migrant groups cross boundaries, they bring their food with them,” said Erik Seeman, University at Buffalo Humanities Institute director and conference organizer. “It’s important to them to have those connections with their homelands, and it serves to shape their adopted homelands, whether they’re going there voluntarily, or they’re being forced there.”

Seeman noted that the boxed lunches also will serve as a connection between the space where the festival is happening, and its subject. “The campus borders Grant Street, where the West Side Bazaar is and where this new wave of immigration is most influencing Buffalo. We wanted to reflect that, and give people an opportunity to experience the changes that have been shaping Buffalo for the last couple of decades.”

Lunch is included with day passes ordered by Wednesday ($12 general, $10 students). Choices include:

Burmese chicken curry from Kyel Sein Hein Burmese Cuisine (pictured in header)

Pad Thai from Thai Family Cuisine

Pad Thai from the West Side Bazaar. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Pad Thai from the West Side Bazaar. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Falafel with hummus or shish kebab with rice and coleslaw from Taste of Africa

Falafel with hummus from Taste of Africa. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Falafel with hummus from Taste of Africa. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Vegetarian combo from Abyssinian Ethiopian Cuisine

Vegetarian combo from Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine in the West Side Bazaar. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Vegetarian combo from Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine in the West Side Bazaar. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

For tickets, go to http://buffalohumanities.org/.

Email your dish nominations to agalarneau@buffnews.com.

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