Take your taste buds on a world tour without leaving the South End! The 11th annual Plate of Nations, the signature event of South Seattle’s MLK Business Association, is here to expand your palate with dishes from around the world when you visit the 15 participating local restaurants.
The 16-day culinary event, ending Sunday, Sept. 26, gives visitors a chance to taste each eatery’s menu with shareable plates and samplers, priced at $20 and $35 respectively. These special menus are curated so customers can try fan-favorite dishes. Samples include mixed plates with a side of mac salad from Buddha Bruddah, mouth-watering doro wat with house-made injera from Amy’s Merkato, street-style tacos from El Quetzal, freshly fried catfish po’boys from Emerald City Fish & Chips, and authentic Philly cheesesteak from The Original Philly’s.
“Plate of Nations is a great opportunity to showcase the neighborhood, and hopefully we’ll have a lot of diners from surrounding neighborhoods come,” said Drea Miller, co-owner of Buddha Bruddah. “The event is about representing different cultures — and that’s what our neighborhood is all about.”
Emerald Eats is a bi-monthly documentary series featuring chefs, farmers, and entrepreneurs who are building a more diverse, meaningful food culture in South Seattle and South King County. This series will focus on local businesses and the role they play in the fight for more sustainable and equitable food systems in our communities. We’ll bring you behind the scenes — and into the lives — of the people transforming what we eat through community, culture, tradition, and innovation.
by Dylan Cate
Can cooking reconnect us to loved ones we’ve lost? Can changing our relationship to food also change our relationship to our parents and our past?
Theary Ngeth’s relationship with food has always been complicated. When she was a young child in Cambodia, her family escaped the Khmer Rouge, bringing only what they could carry. They ate only what they could find along their long journey to a refugee camp in Thailand. When her family ultimately settled in the U.S., Theary’s mom was a prolific and accomplished cook — but the food was always for someone else. As the wife of a buddhist priest, she fed the community at weddings, social gatherings, and a community center for Cambodian elders. So as a teenager, Theary rejected cooking, doing whatever she could to avoid the kitchen when her mother prepared big meals. For Theary, these meals were the reason her parents spent plenty of time and attention to nourish the community but never enough time with her.
Everything changed for Theary, however, when her mom passed away. Now, running her own Cambodian food kiosk in South Seattle, Theary isn’t just trying to reconnect with her community. She’s forging a new relationship with her mom’s memory and taking up the legacy her mother left behind. Watch her story here, on Emerald Eats.
Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters
Women’s History Month begins this Monday, March 1, and the Intentionalist team is excited to kick off our celebration by highlighting some of our favorite woman-owned businesses in South Seattle.
This month is all about commemorating, acknowledging, and celebrating the vital role women play in history and present day. March also marks one year since the pandemic shut down small businesses throughout Seattle, disproportionately affecting women and women of color in particular. This month, especially given the events of the past year, it’s important to continue showing up for the woman-owned small businesses at the heart of our communities.
Whether you’re into sweet, savory, or all of the above, here are three Intentionalist suggestions for woman-owned businesses you can support in the South End.
More Seattle families will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, thanks to an expansion of the City of Seattle’s Fresh Bucks program. The city has just added $1.3 million for the program in the newly approved 2021 city budget, making it possible to enroll 3,100 people currently on the Fresh Bucks waitlist to begin receiving vouchers in December and continuing through 2021.
Fresh Bucks customers receive $40 in monthly benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables from participating Seattle farmers markets, neighborhood grocers, and Seattle Safeway stores. With the program’s expansion, there are 12,100 Seattle households served, in addition to the city’s emergency grocery voucher program that has supported 14,000 households.
If an apple falls from a tree in the city and there is no one around to pick it up and eat it, should you squeeze out even a granular amount of compassion for the pathetic plight of the neglected fruit? To this riff on the age old philosophical thought experiment that has plagued anyone with the mixed blessing of having attained a liberal arts degree, those associated with South Seattle’s City Fruit would answer an emphatic, “Yes,” though probably with considerably coarser language.
Located in Beacon Hill’s El Centro De La Raza, the urban fruit harvesting non-profit has spent the past six years ensuring that all unused fruit grown from trees in the greater Seattle area – which just so happens to be the United State’s largest urban orchard- is given a shot at landing in the bellies of the community’s food insecure.
With 1 in 5 children in the King County area currently going hungry at night- the ratio is slightly greater in South Seattle neighborhoods- City Fruit’s mission could not seem more relevant, as with inequality presently serving as verbal cheese- instantaneously transforming the drab into intriguing as long as it’s strewn with liberal amounts of the stuff- food disparities within communities conspicuously often only rates a minor mention in the discourse, something that the organization’s Executive Director, Catherine (Kate) Morrison, knows all too well.
“There’s the calorie dense things that people eat that aren’t necessarily good for you, so we fight food insecurity because we’re providing food for people who need it. We also fill the gap for those food desert areas, all while doing it in a culturally sensitive and community focused way,” she says.
Morrison is speaking to the fact that even in areas that are not technically food deserts- meaning that there is at least one convenience store or small grocer located within a reasonable proximity- many families, in making a paycheck stretch to the bounds of breaking, are forced to purchase cheap, high calorie foods that often have less nutritious content than the material they’re packaged in.
For some South Seattle families who struggle to feed a family of four, the joke about living off of Top Ramen noodles, Kool-Aid and processed macaroni and cheese is a lived reality. It’s one of the many reasons that City Fruit’s popularity in the area has taken off like a lit firework.
“Every single time someone hears about us and what we do, people automatically light up,” says Brian Mickelson, City Fruit’s Development Manager.
Though tackling food insecurity is at the forefront of its mission, the organization – founded in 2008 by Beacon Hill resident Gail Savina- may actually serve as the motherload to bleeding heart do-gooders everywhere, as it crosses off just about every “must have” on their fantasy Christmas list:
Community Beautification? The organization works with local tree owners to salvage fallen fruit that has piled up around their residences, many times creating both an “eyesore” and an impediment for pedestrians.
Local Residents Benefited? As they serve the South Seattle haunts of Seward Park, Rainier Beach, Mount Baker, Columbia City and Beacon Hill (with possible expansion into Skyway) the majority of the fruit they harvest is distributed to daycares, schools, lunch programs and food banks within those neighborhoods.
Environment? Fret not Sierra Club card carriers and proud Prius lessees (or should I say all Seattleites…), in a world where eating local means living in New York while choosing an apple from Washington over a comparable one from Argentina, all of the fruit they harvest is distributed within the state of Washington. Even that which is not suitable for donation ends up in the restaurants of Chef Extraordinaire, Tom Douglas.
Employs Locals? While the organization utilizes volunteers, the majority of their fruit harvesters are actually paid staff who come directly from the neighborhoods City Fruit serves.
But okay, says the still unconvinced cynic, with the free fruit they’re giving away these maniacal fruit loving fanatics must of course be undercutting the local area Farmer’s Markets? No, actually. The organization goes out of its way not to distribute at local markets – not only to make sure to not impinge on local growers, but to also guarantee that the fruit they harvest remains in the confines of the 206 area code.
“We always want to make sure that our food is either in a food bank the same day or the next day and not sitting in anyone’s car, although I do have 60 lbs of Apples in mine. But those are cooking Apples,” jokes Morrison, as she readies for the organization’s 4th annual Hard Cider Taste to be held November 6th at the Palace Ballroom.
“We’re something that citizen philanthropists can get behind full bore, because they have this stuff in their backyard,” says Mickelson. “They see all that’s going to waste, and the more fruit they can grow, the more efficient and targeted we can be. There’s a ton of room for collaboration with the community.”
It’s this hope for collaboration with the citizens of South Seattle that the still ripening non-profit hopes will allow them to reach their audacious goal: ensuring no one in the south end community lacks access to nutritious food, regardless of income.
Says Morrison, “My background is in public health, so for me access to healthy food is the foundation of a healthy community. It’s just that simple.”
Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle