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A community gathers for a grand feast in the tradition of Provence.
Central Park Gardens in downtown Davis will play host to an afternoon of French culture in late September during The Village Feast, a fundraiser celebrating the bounty of local farms and the pleasure of gathering with friends and neighbors around good food.
The event centers around a communal meal known as a grand aïoli, a longtime Provençal tradition in which heaping platters of simply prepared ingredients, typically steamed vegetables, seafood and hard-cooked eggs, are served alongside the star of the show, a pungent garlic mayonnaise for dipping. This particular luncheon will feature lamb in place of the seafood, fitting for a celebration set in Yolo County. All elements of the meal—the aperitif of pear cider served with olives and nuts; the wine and the olive oil accompanying the main course; the fresh figs and pear galette for dessert—will come from local producers and purveyors. In keeping with tradition (and to minimize waste), diners bring their own plates, utensils and napkins to the event.
“I’m a big fan of food being a community builder,” says event spokesperson Deema Tamimi. “You can bring people together who might not necessarily agree on everything, but they can enjoy a meal together and maybe leave with a different perspective on things.”
As Tamimi sees it, these sorts of opportunities to break bread with friends and strangers serve a larger purpose. The technology that dominates our daily lives “can make us think we’re connecting when we’re not doing so in a real way,” she asserts. “It’s going to be these kinds of events that keep us healthy and happy and communing with our neighbors.”
Ticket sales and a silent auction at The Village Feast will benefit two organizations, Les Dames d’Escoffier, Sacramento, which offers scholarships to women in restaurants, hospitality and agriculture, and Davis Farm to School, which funds school gardens, farm field trips and professional development for garden-based teaching.
“Given where we live,” says Tamimi, “it makes sense for organizations to be focusing on making sure that kids and women have lots of opportunities to work in agriculture and culinary arts. And this is such a fun way to help make it happen.”—Catherine Warmerdam
The Village Feast
Sept. 29, 1–4 p.m.
Davis Central Park