Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers descended upon the city's airport, courthouses, and streets to protest President Trump’s Muslim ban. Now there’s a new site of resistance: the dinner table.
On Friday, Breaking Bread NYC released its first map of restaurants serving food from the seven countries targeted by the ban. The group, which describes itself as “a collective of concerned citizens interested in building community through food-related activities,” plans to release a map every Friday highlighting these restaurants for the duration of the travel ban, and to compliment the maps with guided tours and dinner parties.
The inaugural tour took place Saturday, with Scott Wiener, a Breaking Bread founder and the man behind Scott’s Pizza Tours, leading a group through seven Cobble Hill restaurants depicted on the first map - two of them Syrian and five Yemeni. The tour costs $30, which includes food, and a $10 donation is recommended for the maps. All of the proceeds will go toward supporting the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The collective’s purpose, according to Wiener, isn’t just to raise money for charity and Muslim-owned business, but to increase empathy among New Yorkers who might not otherwise interact. “It seems from current events that there’s a certain level of misunderstanding of people who may look different or live in different areas, and sometimes it’s hard for people to get past that,” Wiener said. “But everybody eats.”
“You know when you go to a friend’s house and eat a meal with their family, and you get this really intimate view of what they’re all about?” Wiener continued. “We’re just trying to do that.”
Turns out, Wiener’s observation is backed by hard evidence. According to a University of Chicago study, those who eat the same meals exhibit more trust in each other than those who eat different food, even when both meals are taken together. Ayelet Fishbach, one of the lead researchers of the study, explained the psychology behind this on NPR’s Morning Edition earlier this week: “Food is about bringing something into the body. And to eat the same food suggests that we are both willing to bring the same thing into our bodies.”
So put some food in your body from a Muslim-majority country, for science and the resistance. Breaking Bread NYC is currently planning a dinner party for next week at a Somalian restaurant in Harlem, and you can find all future events on their Facebook page.
Of course, you could also just look up your nearest Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Libyan, Somalian or Yemeni restaurant and go support them yourself. Just make sure to order what everyone else is having.