Monday, December 19, 2011

My Life As a Pudding Judge

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM

My writing takes me to the most amazing places.

The Foundation for Inter-Cultural Dialogue invited me to be a judge at their Noah's Pudding contest. I had never heard of Noah's Pudding, also called Ashure. So I had to do a little research.
Noah's pudding gets its name from the dish Noah made when the Ark landed on Mt. Ararat after the Great Flood. There was very little food left, so everyone gathered together what they had and created a pudding: nuts, grains, beans, and fruit....whatever was at hand.

Ashure is both a food and an event. In modern times, in Turkey and throughout the Middle East, ashure is made and shared with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers or whoever. The purpose is promoting peace and love with everyone in spite of religious or philosophical differences. The dish is both sweet and savory and good for you. The event is good for the soul.

The day plays a significant role in the Muslim faith, although Jewish and Christians also serve the dish in some manner. The event was held at the Center which sits tucked behind the old Kaibab shop on Campbell Avenue near Glenn.

Anyway, we arrived to a full gathering of wonderful people. The building serves as the Turkish Cultural Center here in Tucson. Indeed, the majority of the members of the Center for Inter-Cultural Dialogue are from Turkey.
First, there was dinner which consisted of stewed beef, rice, green beans in tomatoes, dolmas and a green salad. Everything was wonderful. The meat was tender and savory, the salad bright and fresh. The dolmas were the best I ever tasted because the filling popped with flavor and the grape leaves didn't overpower. This was followed by a short presentation about Ashure.

The Noah’s pudding contest came next. What was so cool is that everyone there was a judge. There were three different puddings. We rated them from 1 to 10 in three categories: presentation, quality and taste. They were all so different yet somehow shared a common flavor. One was chunky and full of fruits and nuts. Another was more finally chopped and had corn and red beans mixed in as well as pomegranates seeds on top. The third had crunchy garbanzos and was served warm. All were absolutely marvelous. Certainly this dish would work well for breakfast or as a dessert.

The contest ended in a tie between two puddings.

The whole evening was a marvel, such a feeling of unity and community and sharing. So peaceful. I learned about a new food and an ancient custom. I met some wonderful people and I got to share some great food with those people.

I'm not sure one could ask for more out of one's work.

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