The best gifts for friends, family and business partners concerned with food and sustainability
Tthere’s no better way to show gratitude than oxtail noodle soup. I learned this from being neighbors of Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang, who together launched a local effort to address the isolation of New York’s elderly East Asian community through food packages.
Their nonprofit Heart of Dinner has served nearly 100,000 gracious meal since April 2020. I’ve had the honor of watching it evolve from some of its early days, when one of my big boxes of San Marzano tomatoes turned in their 300 square foot apartment into hot meals for a crew quarter.
A few weeks ago, Tsai surprised me to drop a package prepared by his mother: a homemade soup full of oxtail falling from the bones, a package of rice noodles, a few green onions and two flowers tied together with a knot. Tsai’s mother wanted to take several hours from her visit to California to grab the oxtail until the middle of the night and feed those who have helped her daughter’s community during some of the pandemic’s darker days. I was very touched. This feeling hit even harder after I reheated the soup and added the chewy noodles and scallions, and I realized I was lucky enough to taste the kind of home cooking made possible only by generations of tips and tricks. transmitted.
Tsai and Chang know that there is power in nurturing people and building community through this exchange. Their organization chooses to do this on purpose, sourcing culturally appropriate ingredients and using their network of volunteers to make handwritten notes to include with every meal.
Those kind of clear guidelines and small projects helped build the local Heart of Dinner effort, which Tsai and Chang discussed at the Forbes Power Women’s Summit on Thursday.
“With any project, you see this long term vision and it’s so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start,” Tsai said Thursday. “Cut it back a bit. Just focus on, I wanna get here, but what’s the first thing I can do? With Heart of Dinner, so many people wanted to be involved, but weren’t sure what to do.
This is the inspiration that I internalize as I try to finalize the last of my holiday gifts. The lens has already made some of my gifts more thoughtful. Good luck pinning the rest of your list while planning the holiday season and other festive moments over the next few weeks. This will be the penultimate Forbes Fresh Take before the start of 2022. I wish you a relaxing vacation!
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The Fresh Take Gift Guide
A few things I would buy for friends, family, colleagues, co-founders, investors, or other food and sustainability-conscious business partners. Better yet, visit your local markets and gift fairs.
Hawa Hassan Tamarind-Date and Coconut-Cilantro Sauces from Basbaas Foods [h/t to the fabulous gift guide from Internet provocateur Joe Rosenthal, which includes other great recommendations like a 32-ounce Crab Cake Tub and a Chef’s Press for the perfect sear.]
Diaspora Co. masala dabba spice set
Edy’s grocery store holiday gift box of goods imported from the Middle East
Donate to Studio Atao, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to “systems-based change through a social justice lens”. Or for the child of your life, or if you’re just trying to inspire your inner child like me, Studio Atao founder Jenny Dorsey Official Avatar Cookbook.
Some other cookbooks that I love:
Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown by Brandon Jew and Tienlon Ho
Zoe’s Ghanaian cuisine by Zoé Adjonyoh
The Korean vegan cookbook by Joanne Lee Molinaro
Black food by Bryant Terry
Plates, Dishes, Plates by Maria Zizka
Catch a fish by Josh Niland
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