23 Ramadan 1443
One of my students is Ukrainian. She shared with me that Ukrainian Easter — or Orthodox Easter — is not celebrated on the same date as Easter Sunday in the U.S. She shared what she loved most is the food she would eat with her family; and she wanted to share that experience with her friends. She asked me if I could help her. I said yes.
Today is Ukrainian Easter.
Yesterday—with my student, two of her friends, and their permission slips—we went on a field trip to different Slavic markets in Boston.
At one point, I learned an uncle from my community in Florida died. I regretted not seeing him one more time. I set aside my thoughts to focus.
The first Slavic supermarket we visited was the largest. Many products were familiar to me. They told the story of the historical crossroads Slavic cuisine emerges from, with Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European inflections. A lot of products were either labelled Halal or Parve.
From there, we walked through the neighborhood to another market. We noted which businesses were obviously a part of the neighborhood’s gentrification. They had the look of a gentrifier.
The second Slavic market was next door to three Arab restaurants. It felt historically and gastronomically appropriate.
After completing our purchases, the kids had lunch at a place next to the market. We then stopped by a guitar shop where an employee called everyone bro; a mosque so the Muslims could pray; Ella Little’s home; a Uyghur restaurant to pick up iftar; and a pizza place for extra gluttony. We saw a sign displayed on the window of a Korean restaurant welcoming Ukrainians and condemning the war, and we reflected on what it meant to us. We drove through a street where many people were gathered with their belongings, where some were sleeping, where some were neither awake nor sleeping. We then stopped by two other Slavic markets to find them closed.
Before heading home, the kids noted how good it felt to be among a majority of black people, non-English speaking immigrants, and other people of color as we walked through different neighborhoods.
We were among the global majority—and we could breathe easier.