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Ethnic Food Adds Flavor to Farmers Markets in Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 25, 2013 9:25am
 Staten Island Arts will host demonstrations of Sri Lankan, Mexican and Liberian cuisine in the summer.
Ethnic Foodways Project Demonstration
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STATEN ISLAND — The flavors of Sri Lanka, Liberia and Mexico are mixing with homegrown produce at Staten Island's farmers markets this summer.

Staten Island Arts will host its Ethnic Foodways Project series of food demonstrations of cuisine of the borough's immigrant communities, said Puja Sahney, folk life associate for the group.

“These are really big communities on the island,” she said. “That's how we got interested in documenting their cultures.”

At different farmers markets and food markets throughout the borough, people will be shown how to make Liberian fufu, Mexican chicken with adobe sauce and Sri Lankan vambatu pabie.

At the demonstrations, attendees will be able to watch dishes being prepared, ask questions on how to make them and where to shop for ingredients, and also sample them.

They will be led by chefs who specialize in the cuisine, and also home cooks who are well known within their communities for being great cooks, Sahney said.

“There are going to be a few chefs as well as some community members,” she said.

Earlier this year, two Sri Lankan food demonstrations were held at San Rasa, in Tompkinsville, to kick-off the summer project.

While the first demonstration was a ticketed event, Sahney said they chose to do the rest at local markets so everybody in the community can learn about their neighbors' traditional food for free.

“We wanted to make it publicly accessible,” Sahney said. “We wanted everybody to be there and just see the live demonstrations.”

The first Ethnic Foodways Project demonstrations will be on July 13 at the St. George Greenmarket from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with home-cooked Sri Lankan food by Monica Thenuwara. For information on the other demonstrations, visit Staten Island Arts’ website.