Monday, April 16, 2012

Africa in Harlem

Last Monday was one of those days when my professional life joins my personal life and passions.
Tesfaye Tesseme at King Towers

I visited the Manhattanville Housing Development to see the Senior Center's art program, coordinated by Tesfaye Tessema, a NYCHA art consultant, who also happens to be an internationally recognized painter of Ethiopian origin. From there, I went on to King Towers, to see the children's art program that Tesfaye also teaches.



Painting at Manhattanville Senior Center
The King Houses Community Center director, Dawn Foster, is of Jamaican origin, and her spouse is Egyptian. The Center's children are of a variety of origins: Jamaican, Senegalese, Puerto Rican, etc.
By the time I was done, it was too late to return to the office, so my friend and I walked towards Park Avenue on 116th Street, looking for a place to have a cup of coffee. We found a Moroccan hookah restaurant, "The Kiosk." Instead of coffee, we had North African-style mint tea (made with green "gunpowder" tea and mint).
Mint tea at The Kiosk
Continuing north towards the MetroNorth Harlem station, I finally walked into a restaurant called "New Ivoire" that I'd catch a glimpse of from the train. It features the cuisine of Ivory Coast; the menu was interesting, but the decor was not too inspiring, and there seemed to be only men inside and outside of the restaurant--we didn't see a single woman.  In one afternoon, how many African countries, from North to South, did I cover in one New York City neighborhood?
Harlem E 116th Street bodega display


African mini-drums and skullcaps