Thursday, September 12, 2013

[NEWS BITES] YallaEat! New walking tour reveals Eastern Market's Arab history, merchants, food

Olives at Gabriel Import Co.
There is a new free walking tour series starting next Tuesday at Eastern Market. YallaEat! celebrates the history of Arab merchants in the historic market district. Find everything you need to make a traditional Arabic meal in the market, learn the history of Arab entrepreneurs in the market, visit the market's Arab-owned businesses and meet the owners. The greater Arab community is one of the largest ethnic cultures in metro Detroit (if not THE largest) and its impact on our culture and heritage is hugely significant. This tour will help show you why. Here's more info:

Who’s hungry for history? The Arab American National Museum (AANM) says, “Yalla (Arabic for ‘let’s go’) eat!”

AANM’s YallaEat! Culinary Walking Tour is a new, immersive cultural experience being offered free of charge this fall as a pilot program and next year as a fee-based program. The docent-guided walking tours of Detroit’s historic Eastern Market in September and October 2013 will help refine future tours, including those the Museum will conduct this spring along Warren Avenue in Dearborn, amid the largest concentration of Arabs outside the nations of the Arab World.

Those who register online for the Tuesday and Saturday afternoon tours this fall will hear the story of Arab Americans in metro Detroit while exploring the long history of Arab merchants in and around Eastern Market. Participants will visit diverse Arab and Middle Eastern businesses – all founded by immigrants and family run – meet and talk with the owners, enjoy some free samples and do some old-school shopping.

“Before supermarkets like Kroger and Meijer, you would have to visit multiple family-owned stores to secure all of your groceries,” says Dr. Matthew Jaber Stiffler, AANM researcher and culinary guide.

“Our tour participants will visit businesses that, taken together, sell all of the ingredients of a typical Arab American meal: from olives, cheese and cucumbers as an appetizer, to meat, rice, and bread as a main course, to coffee and nuts for after dinner,” Stiffler says.

Well-known Detroit-area community leader Ed Deeb, a proud Arab American, wrote the introduction for the YallaEat! Eastern Market tour. In 1972, Deeb founded the Eastern Market Merchants Association to help vendors get more recognition from the City of Detroit. He was also a co-founder of the Eastern Market Corporation and founded the Michigan Food and Beverage Association in 1987.

“You will note during your tour that the Arab American merchants and shop owners are friendly, personable and eager to see you,” Deeb says. “They are always proud to meet people of their own heritage and to introduce others to Arab American traditions. What stands out most is how they are intermingled with the other ethnic business people throughout the Market.” 

Tours run approximately two hours and 30 minutes; comfortable walking shoes are required. Opportunities to shop are offered at most stops. Tours begin and end at Germack Coffee Roasting Company, Roastery & Espresso Bar, 2517 Russell St., Detroit. Founded by Armenian immigrants from Syria in the 1920s, Germack offers fresh roasted coffee and nuts from across the globe.

Tour registration is free but an online RSVP is required at RSVPs will be accepted until each tour date’s 15 slots are filled or until noon the day prior to each tour.

YallaEat! Culinary Walking Tours: Eastern Market
Presented by Arab American National Museum

1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013

1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013

2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013

1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013

1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013