Last weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the 15th Annual Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation with members from my Quaker Meeting, and it was an enjoyable experience. This country could use one of these on a daily basis.
The theme for the walk this year was “Recognizing the One in All of Us.” This is appropriate for many reasons, in and out of religions.
Although this is something that has been going on for 15 years, it was my first, but certainly not my last. There is just something fulfilling about being surrounded by a group of like-minded folks that energizes me in a way I cannot put into words.
We started our journey at the Arch Street Meeting House in old city Philadelphia. The Meeting room was filled with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Baha’i, secular humanists, and others who share the values of peace and justice. We sat in silence, as we do in Quaker tradition before heading to the streets.
Our first stop was the Society Hill Synagogue where we were greeted by members lining the entrance. Musicians were playing inside that filled the room with joy. The Rabbi welcomed all of us with prayer and a dash of humor. We then enjoyed a musical prayer performed by the Philadelphia Sikh Society youth group. A reading by Philadelphia Youth Poet Laurite, Husna Hashim, that rose the room to their feet in applause, and a Recitation from the Qu’ran by Muhammed Shehata from the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, which thankfully was translated for all of us to interpret. Notice the Rabbi & the Muslim embracing in the background. Who would have known ….
All throughout the walk, we were encouraged to use this opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone outside of our comfort zone and LEARN. Questions like “does your turban come pre-wrapped or do you do it yourself?” were not off limits.
Just in case you were wondering they are not pre-wrapped and there are YouTube videos for guidance. According to his smile, I would say he was relieved at the lightness of my question.
Once we left the Synagogue, we made our way back to the street and headed out for a 60-minute walk to Al Aqsa Mosque. We were greeted by the sounds of music compliments of a woman DJ wearing a hijab and Beats by Dre headphones. Something you don’t see every day.
The parameter of the facility was lined with the World Peace ballons in the above photo. It was indeed a site to witness. The air was consumed by the fragrance of dinner being made by the members of the Mosque, and dessert prepared by the Sikh community for all of us to share. All I can say is …. YUM!
As we were all settling in I took a moment to look around, I mean really look around at the oneness surrounding me.
I watched the men carrying out trays of food, and the women were not only directing where everything needed to go, but they were also getting annoyed if the men did not do it accordingly. Every woman reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.
The children were running around excited to have company in their “home.”Look what I can do! Look at me! Watch this! Free entertainment.
I realized that the ONE woman in our lives who insists you try her dish over the everyday meals made by the other women even though your plate is already overflowing exists in EVERY culture. You know who you are ladies.
This was when I understood that the core ingredient to solving World Peace is FOOD. We really need to stop overthinking, start cooking and
Enjoy the Ride!
Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?
Hmm…this is an interesting question. The only time I even considered going to the ends of the earth for food was when I was pregnant. Travel, kill, maim they’re all the same … right?
All I know is when these hormonal tastebuds spoke, I listened. Womb service is no joke.
Every single day I HAD to have Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal or someone was going to die. Not in an OCD kinda way, but in a murderous sort of way.
Then there was the pasta salad served at a little place several blocks from my building that was as necessary as air during this pregnancy. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, I was getting that damn salad!
Anyone who has ever been with child, or in the presence of someone in this position, knows when the baby wants a ham & swiss cheese sandwich with mustard slathered between two pieces of Jewish rye, you better get it, even if it’s 8 a.m. Hormones do not wear watches.
At the time of my first pregnancy, I was working at a very large law firm in Philadelphia. I had the BEST secretary in the world. She was 100% Italian, which meant she knew how to feed the masses or me when necessary. If the baby started making ridiculous demands at random times during the day. She delivered.
She was my Foody Godmother.
One day I just mentioned a cake that I had at some point in my life, the next thing I knew her brother was standing at my desk with a bakery box. Bam!
If I wanted a juicy navel orange in the middle of February, which I did for most of the month, I got it. I didn’t ask questions, I just ate.
So, to answer the question: I wouldn’t necessarily travel for the best meal of my life, but I certainly would enjoy if it magically appeared on my plate.
Enjoy the Ride …
Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.
I’m from the wonderful City of Brotherly Love, better known as Philly or Philadelphia if you want to be technical. That’s right folks, I have the pleasure of living in the same town as some very well-known historic landmarks such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the ever so famous icon….The Philly Cheesesteak.
No one, and I mean no one, visits this fare city without delving into the wonderful world of crusty rolls, rib-eye beef and of course … melted cheese. It’s your duty as a visitor to partake in the consumption of this local delicacy.
Here’s a little heads-up to the outsiders who believe that they can walk into any Philly eatery, order a cheesesteak and therefore claim to have lived the experience. No, that’s not how it works around these parts. We actually have our own Cheesesteak etiquette if you will. Yes, there are rules. First you must master the ordering procedure, then and only then, can you venture out to indulge.
When ordering one does not just walk up to a counter stating “Can I have a cheesesteak?” not unless you want to be stared at as if you are an alien of some sort. Don’t let that Brotherly Love stuff fool you, we can be a tough town and our patience have been known to run thin…especially in a cheesesteak line. So please, for the love of god have your order and money ready. You will need to follow these instructions carefully….very carefully when ordering.
Once you have your ordering method memorized and money in your hand you are ready to venture out to a location that will allow you to have the best authentic cheesesteak experience. Hmm where to go? Well, chances are if you ask around town you’ll be steered in the direction of Pat’s and Geno’s. Just imagine a Hatfield & McCoy rivalry with meat and cheese. These 2 famous eateries have been partaking in a friendly competition for over 4 decades to claim fame as Best Cheesesteak in Town.
They are kind enough to keep their grills sizzling 24 hours a day to satisfy your taste buds whenever they feel the need to be slathered by one of Philly’s finest. Believe me when I tell you a cheesesteak never tasted better than at 3 in the morning after a night on the town. If I was asked to cast my vote between the 2, it would go to Pat’s.
However, these aren’t the only two guys in town who can assist you in your quest for experiencing the authentic flavor of a Philly Cheesesteak. You can also check out Jim’s, Tony Luke’s, John’s, Steve’s, Rick’s, Soni’s, McNally’s, Shank’s, Campo’s and Dalessandro’s … just to name a few.
Everyone has their own reasons for liking one cheesesteak over the other. For some it’s the roll, others the quantity of meat vs. distribution of cheese. It’s serious business. My hubby likes Philly Steak & Hoagie for the roll, while my son enjoys Steve’s Prince of Steaks due to the size. My daughter enjoys the dripping cheese on a Pat’s steak and for me … well, I crown Dalessandro’s as “Best Cheesesteak in Town” for the texture of the meat.
So, whether you’re Wit or Wit-out (pronounced Widout) either way … Enjoy the Ride!