Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pomegranate Food Lore?

 It's More than Just Pretty... 

In the world of folklore, food wisdom tells us about what we eat. Why we eat a certain dish at a particular holiday or how a specific fruit or vegetable can help us become brave, strong or true. Americans can easily recall the virtue of spinach that cartoon character Popeye the Sailor ate when he had to overcome the evil Brutus. Food has long been perceived as having powers that can be transferred to us once it has been consumed.
Around the world and throughout time pomegranates have been long associated fertility and bounty.  This sweet and brightly colored fruit has appeared as follows:
  • In some paintings of the Madonna Virgin and Child of Christianity
  • In Ancient Egyptian graves for rebirth in the afterlife
  • At Chinese weddings
Considered to be one of the world’s most ancient foods it made its way to the new world via Spanish missionaries, this native Persian fruit continues to be a source of nutrition and lore. If you include pomegranates at your table, take a few minutes to make note of how, when and why. You may find you are keeping the lore alive.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What's In A Straw?

Marvin Chester Stone: Unsung Folk Hero

Unlike the fictional Sir George who slayed the dragon or Jesse James whose fame came from being outside the law, Stone did something that very few people are aware of. He was an inventor and his most prized invention was the drinking straw.
The Ohio native was in his mid-40’s when in 1888 he developed the paper straw. It was his response to the natural rye grass straws that added a grassy flavor to beverages.  Over time his model became the platform upon which straws of various designs and colors eventually appeared in the marketplace.
No stranger to the notion of employing mechanics to bring an idea to life the former newspaperman and Civil War veteran also created the first machine to manufacture the straws that until then had been wound by hand.
Many credit his heritage with the ‘inventor’s gene’. His father Chester Stone invented the cheese press and is credited with patenting the first washing machine.
According to an obituary in The House Furnishing Review Stone was also considered by some to be a friend of the working class. He looked after the girls who worked in his factory and developed for them a library, music room, a salon for debates, and more.
To learn more about folk heroes click here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Black History Month Celebration

A Tribute to the Hidden Roots of Black Music

Saturday, February 22, 2014.  6-9 p.m. (doors open 5:30 p.m.)
$35.00 Non-members/ $25.00 Members/ Children under 12 FREE
Finley Center: 2060 West College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Gospel, jazz, rock, and soul are all part of Black History Month Celebration:  A Tribute to the Hidden Roots of Black Music. This musical journey features some of America’s past musical greats and feature some of the most innovative North Bay musical talent. The evening is hosted by the North Bay Black Chamber of Commerce and takes place Saturday February 22 at 6 p.m. at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa.

The evening’s musical journey starts with the explosion of 19th and 20th century gospel, travels to influential tunes of the 1920-1980’s and then rounds the melodic bend with a tribute to musical greats Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and others.

Event features include southern style soul food prepared by Red Rose Catering, Paradise Ridge wine tasting, dancing, and guest speakers, local gospel groups, and Bay Area performers.

Special Guests:

Emcee: Mohammed Bilal: Best known as "the even-tempered, dread- locked rapper guy” on MTV's Real World III: San Francisco, Bilal is a diversity consultant, musician, and writer. His awards include two SF Whammies and one Bay Area Music Award for best Hip-Hop group. Bilal’s music has been featured in the Sundance Award-winning film, Drylongso, and on TV shows such as Moesha and NBC’s mini-series Kingpin.

Musician: Ric Alexander: Alexander, an innovative figure in contemporary music, is an experienced saxophonist, songwriter and producer known for playing two saxophones simultaneously. His latest release, 2wo 4our 1ne, is a collaboration with Grammy nominated producer/guitarist Levi Seacer (Sounds of Blackness, Sheila E., Prince, Pointer Sisters) that explores new directions in the music industry. Alexander recently took top honors in the Dave Koz Music Cruise contest and is currently nominated as “Best Jazz Musician” for an East Bay Area Music Award.

 “We are looking forward to sharing our rich musical and culinary heritage with our families and friends,” said Letitia Hanke-Ryzhkov, president, North Bay Black Chamber of Commerce. NBBCC is comprised of local business owners, potential business owners, professional and business partners and alliances dedicated to promoting, supporting and enhancing all businesses, in particular black-owned businesses.  This is accomplished through various network venues and forming partnerships and alliances with business entities offering business contracts and various business opportunities.

Cost is $35/non-members, $25/members and free for children 12 and under. $10 discount on tickets purchased by February 15. For more information, call 888.846.5155 or visit www.nbbcc.org.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saint Valentine

Just Who Was He?

The folklore question of the week is who was Saint Valentine? This Italian native, according to early records, was a widely recognized third-century Roman saint who was associated with the tradition of courtly love. However, no one knows for sure if this was the only Valentine in the book, so to speak.
Interestingly, the official Roman Catholic roster of saints shows almost a dozen of them. These martyrs were given this ‘strong, powerful’ title between the second and eighth centuries A.D. In fact, there was even a Pope Valentine who served for a little over a month around A.D. 827.
Whomever, and whichever one you believe is the ‘real deal’, this saint is responsible for taking care of beekeepers and is most commonly called upon to guide the lives of lovers. 
If you want to know more about St. Valentine’s Day, check out this video. To learn more about folk heroes, click here.