Tubman’s Taste of Soul event has international flavor

Hundreds of visitors to the Tubman African American Museum Sunday had the chance to sample cuisines from all over the globe as part of the International Taste of Soul event at the museum.

The event serves as the annual fundraiser for the Pan African Festival and for the museum’s various educational programs, said Andy Ambrose, executive director of the Tubman.

“It’s a way to introduce people to new culinary experiences,” he said. “It also gives people a chance to experience the museum.”

Ambrose noted it’s the first time the Taste of Soul event has been held in the museum, and the first time the food has taken on an international flair, with cuisines representing Jamaica, China, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil and other countries in the world.

Nicole Thurston Abdou, director of sales and marketing for the Tubman, said she was partial to Bazla, an Egyptian dish.

“It’s a meat, peas, tomato dish,” she said, adding that she might be a little biased since it was prepared by her husband, Yasser.

In all, there were 28 different local and “celebrity” chefs on display.

Dolly Estrada, owner of Jamaican Kitchen, had a lot of people talking about her restaurant’s jerk chicken.

“I like the way it reaches the community,” said Estrada, who noted her restaurant is relocating to First and Poplar streets this week. “It gives people exposure to new things. Some people have never had Jamaican food, and some people have never had mint ice tea. ... There’s exposure for people who are new to international cuisine.”

That doesn’t mean, however, there weren’t offerings for folks who wanted American food, which ranged from the turkey and potatoes offered by Rick Jones, director of the Macon Transit Authority, to the baby back ribs prepared by local real estate agent Herbert Wynn.

“There are all different cultures and foods for people,” Wynn said. “When you do something like this, it brings people together -- food can do that.”

The chefs weren’t just offering a taste of their culture, but also a look at their culture as well.

Christian and Chi Ezekwueche offered samples of salmon, tilapia, rice, spinach and other delicacies from their native Nigeria. But they also offered Kolanuts, a traditional greeting offered by the Igbo tribe of that country. Though the nuts themselves are extremely bitter and essentially pure caffeine, the food is a symbolic way of saying “welcome” to a guest.

“It’s love, peace, understanding -- all of the good things in life,” Chi Ezekwueche said.

Many of the visitors seemed to be enjoying the variety that was offered.

Jeff Peckham, an attorney from Providence, R.I., who is visiting Macon because of a conference at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law, heard about the event and decided to give it a try.

“It’s good,” he said. “The food is great. ... Something like this, you don’t see very often.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.