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THROWING PAINT

Our Loving Community--Food from 7 Banned Countries

CELEBRATING THE DIVERSITY OF NANTUCKET

We are all immigrants unless we are Native American.  Whether we came to America many generations ago or we came months ago, we are all a part of this wonderful melting pot called America.  Nowhere is this any truer than on the island of Nantucket.  A few days ago, someone asked a question on the Face Book group “Nantucket Year Round Community.”  She wrote, “I’m working on a project with a friend, and we would love to learn about the international community our here and what countries we are from.”  At this point, over 60 people have responded, and the answers vary from Ireland, Russia, Bulgaria, Anguilla, Cape Verde, Lithuania, Germany, England, Mexico, Jamaica, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Belarus, Poland, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Morocco, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Spain, Armenia, Scotland, Philippines, Switzerland, New Zealand, Lebanon, Algeria, Latvia, Chili, Wales, Guatemala, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Canada, Israel, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Hungry, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Japan, Trinidad, Tobago, Tunisia, and Iran to a host of many generation Nantucketers and many “washashores” from all over the United States.  This is an astonishing tribute to the openness and diversity of this small island—and it is one of the many reasons that I love living here.

Greg and Joy Margolis, owners of The Nantucket Culinary Center, recently decided to celebrate this diversity through a chef demonstration and dinner on Friday February 24.  They are calling it, “Our Loving Community--Food from 7 Banned Countries.”  Chef Margolis was inspired to host this dinner concept after watching the footage of individuals all across the nation come together to voice their grievances over the new travel ban.  The evening will feature one dish from each of the seven countries.  Chef Margolis, a proud grandson of immigrants from Eastern Europe, enjoys exploring ethnic food and sharing his passion with the community.  Earlier this year, Chef Margolis featured Indian, Chinese, Scottish, and Middle Eastern cuisines in his dinner demonstrations.

Not only is Chef Margolis passionate about food, but he believes that food puts a face on each culture, its history, and its geography.  An intellectual as well as a cook, Greg is an avid researcher who love to learn about food and new ways of cooking it.  When I arrived to interview him, he was busy on his computer reading all about the countries he is representing—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen.  One of his big surprises was that a Libyan dish containing barley wheat dumplings has a very strange cooking technique—one he had never heard of before.  He is eager to try it and see how and why it works. He also discovered that many of these countries have been deeply influenced by the cuisines of other countries.  For example, Somalia is highly influenced by English, French, and Italian cooking since it was once colonized by these countries.    

While one critic urged the Margolis’s not to be political, neither Greg not Joy see this as a political issue.  Instead they see it as a natural celebration of the diversity of an Island that they love and a community of which they are a part.  We are a regional melting pot of food, and that is always cause for celebration.  Part of the proceeds, however, will be donated to the ACLU.  As the Margolis’s point out in their title for this dinner, we have a diverse and loving community, and we always want to keep it that way.

I almost never go to dinners like this because it is generally an expense that I cannot afford, but I have already registered for this dinner, and I can’t wait.

Nantucket is a wonderful community filled with people from all over the world.  We are rich in love, and grateful for the opportunity to understand each other and to come together as a united community.  Thirty miles from the mainland, we may be part of  America, but we are also our own world—one that embraces difference and loves and celebrates each other in all the many ways we manifest our differences as well as our similarities .  We are rich, poor, and middle-class; we are sensible and foolish; some of us are a little bit crazy and others of us are a whole lot crazy; we are ethnically diverse; we are totally conventional or wildly divergent—but we all care about each other and take care of each other!  I can't think of anyplace in the world that I would rather live!