Nerdy Thursdays | 02.20.2020

STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY | Lauren Stockmon Brown

FOOD | Berber Street Food (jollof rice, accara fritters, and sweet plantains) + Sylvia’s (mac n cheese and yams)

On February 20th, the Black Gotham Experience produced the first Nerdy Thursdays of 2020, “About Spice” at the New-York Historical Society. I was on deck as content producer but had to double at times as a food-server with my colleagues.

As a food-server, I attempted to explain to our guests the difference between jollof in general and how they differ from Senegal, Ghana, or Nigeria. I took pride in serving each cuisine confidently as our guests asked how the vegetarian dishes complimented the famous, mac & cheese. I made sure to sample each item before the night was over and thought of how large portions of food remind me of group gatherings like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

As a videographer and photographer, I strolled through the museum’s Dexter Hall and basked in the portraits and paintings that outlined their walls. I focused on the people. I listened in on friendly conversations, as multiple guests complimented the savory-sweet combo that was explored further through a panel discussion and Q&A that included Malissa Browne (co-owner of Negril BK), Bintou Ndaw (owner of Nafis Originals), and Chef Leon (owner of Mi Za Plaz).

During the panel discussion, I sat in the corner, fiddling with the camera’s angles while filming a lively historic discussion about the foodways impacted by the African Diaspora. I found myself stumbling as I failed to hold the camera straight, distracted by the panelist’s extreme interests in the history of dining and cuisine.

I previously never considered how cooking, eating, prepping and even simple tastes can ignite emotions and house our memories. For instance, Malissa discussed how her passion for food propelled her career forward as a former hostess and now a co-owner of Negril BK. I appreciated the ways in which Bintou grounded the concept of African cuisine in an anti-colonist framework. She explained her time in culinary school and questioned why the western world refuses to view various forms of African food as an “elevated” delicacy. Lastly, I remember when Chef Leon excitedly told us a story about the first time he “entertained” for his “buddies,” and the type of Wonder Bread he used to make this seemingly magical sandwich. Chef Leon referred to this moment as the start to his cooking career.

That evening, I slowly began to realize how memory is embedded into tradition, connection and food.

For this reason, I’ll remember “About Spice” as a time for the community to appreciate how traditional foodways from the African Diaspora lasted throughout struggle and triumph. More importantly, I’ll remember how each gooey or sweet-savory taste serves as a multicultural honoring of history and our most inner-thoughts.

 

Editors Note | 

Please consider to reach out to your friends who work in the food industry as they are managing a tricky terrain as our government mandates responses to the coronavirus. We look forward to being able to be in a room full of more than 10 people and enjoying the offerings of restaurants like Berber Street Food and Sylvia’s who provided the food for the program.

 

 

 

 

AFRICA NOW

FOR YOU

Nerdy Thursdays 11.21.19

Nerdy Thursdays 11.07.19

Filibusters Talk

Filibusters 

Wednesday September 4th | 6-9pm

Black Gotham Experience | 192 Front Street NY, NY 10038

Black Gotham Experience is excited to present an evening talk with Kamau Ware titled Filibusters. Kamau and three others from New York State will participate in the Netherlands Visitor’s Programme that includes a talk at the City Archives of Amsterdam on Tuesday September 10th. This evening, Kamau will share some of the material that connects New York City and the Netherlands with special attention to the impact of the African Diaspora on both spaces.

There will be refreshments from 6 to 6:30pm before the talk starts.

Who is Fort Greene? walk

Who is Fort Greene? Walk 

Wednesday August 28th 2019 | 7:30-9pm

Walk meets at the corner of Rockwell Place and Fulton Street in Fort Greene, BK.

Who Is Fort Greene? is an ongoing investigation of the historical and imagined past of Fort Greene, informed by the public square and the often unseen stories of Black residents and women from the 19th century to the present. For this project, Ware collaborated with poet Cyrus Aaron and used historical research and interviews with contemporary and once residents as source material for an interlocking set of artistic experiments including walks, photographic portraits, a poem cycle, video, and public discussion, all meditating on the project’s central question, Who is Fort Greene?.

Who is Fort Greene? was commissioned by BRIC as part of their BRIC Open Festival in April 2019.

MES

 

Black Gotham Experience is excited to present the first Midnight Espresso Series in New York City and the first in over 15 years. Co-founders, Kamau Ware and Nate Mitchell team up for an evening celebrating the legendary Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson.

About the Midnight Espresso Series 

The Midnight Espresso Series, affectionately referred to as the M.E.S., was an event produced by the bridgespotters collective in Pittsburgh, PA. The series is a synergy of the arts and nightlife celebrating creative legends of the African Diaspora. Kamau Ware and Nate Mitchell ran the series from 2000 to 2003 and are excited to bring it back to life.

FLY