An All-Inclusive Culinary and Cultural Experienc
In the era of this COVID-19 pandemic – in which we are starting to see glimmers of hope, but are still not out of the woods – it’s a challenge to put together a true social event; by definition, in-person activities have been frowned upon for safety reasons. However, Eat Up the Borders is onto something with their recent “Taste of Home” events series that combines high-spirited community engagement with its agenda to highlight minority-owned businesses.
I had the true privilege of attending one of these events at Sunflower Philly on April 18th. It was a beautiful day with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the mid-sixties, and people were out and ready to enjoy it. Importantly, it felt perfectly safe to do so: Sunflower’s event space is completely outdoor, there was adequate space to move around and set up comfortably with one’s own bubble, and everyone was wearing masks except while eating and drinking. To be among so many people and yet feel so at ease felt wonderful after a year of social isolation.
Even before entering the space, the ears were struck pleasantly with music – and indeed, the beats never stopped throughout the entire event. Some of it was live, featuring local artists including Domino, a talented young hip-hop lyricist, Mad Beatz Philly, an energizing drum line made up of high school-aged performers, and The Last Generation on Film, a synthpop duo. In between, DJ Mellodramatic aka Melvin Powell III (who is also the Executive Director of Sunflower Philly!) was spinning tracks from around the world that kept heads bobbing while everyone enjoyed the atmosphere, and Zey, a talented live painter, filled his canvas near the DJ with colorful scenes from the event.
Complementing that atmosphere was an array of vendors – the perfect amount for the space to be safely distanced – that had something for everyone. There were several food and drink options that offered something for everyone. Beverages were provided by the Gynger Tea House (including cool gifts to take home) and Reveal (with their avocado seed brew – yes, you read that right!). For those seeking a meal, there was seriously good food from Nemi Mexican Restaurant (tacos, elote, and margaritas – yum!) and Happy Hour Dive Cart (including an array of delectable sandwiches!). There were even desserts from Tres Fiori (adorable floral cupcakes that are gluten free and organic!) and Alamodak Restaurant and Lounge, who also brought their wildly popular portable individual hookah sets. Additionally, there were beautiful non-edible products for sale, including gorgeous ceramics from Root and Rock and unique clothing from The East Wing. Odds are that even long-time Philadelphia residents would have found some new favorite local restaurants and shops. There was even a raffle, which means that some lucky people left with gift certificates to these fantastic vendors.
Beyond all these incredible attractions, the biggest draw by far was just how inclusive this event felt. Looking around, surrounded by the various flags of the world that hug the perimeter of the little valley that is the Sunflower space, one could find people of many backgrounds and ages (even whole families!), all enjoying the same music, food, and community at the exact same time. This was the kind of event that was intended for everyone, and it delivered fully on that promise.
“Taste of Home” events are breaking down barriers through shared experiences. This is exactly the kind of thing that we need more in Philly and around the world. Luckily, there are more on the horizon, including another event like this on May 16th. If you are interested in attending, you can find more information and RSVP on Sunflower Philly's website. You will not want to miss them!
By Adriana Deverlis of Zealous Eaters Club