Resistance Is a Loaf of Babka
Story and photos by Meredith Pakier
It’s not news that, this year, the restaurant and hospitality industries have been caught in the crosshairs of a public health crisis, forced to make difficult decisions—to restructure, lay-off staff, or close completely. In the midst of this mounting uncertainty, our country has been forced to reckon, yet again, with another crisis: our racist history and present, the role of police, and the health and economic inequities that make it possible for the Covid-19 pandemic to disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities. In response to the ways these communities are struggling, a number of Oakland businesses, restaurants, chefs, and bakers are standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by joining forces and donating money to community-based organizations. Here are some of the things I ate and drank this summer at places where some of the proceeds are donated to organizations focused on achieving racial justice and dismantling systems of oppression.
Take-out dinner from The Lede, which now operates out of the Café Encina space (308 41st Street), was comfort food at its best: roasted chicken and smoked sausage with a trio of sides including tomato-braised romano beans, roasted beets and potatoes, and a corn and cherry tomato salad. Sales help support The Lede’s donations of hundreds of meals to Oakland nonprofits, like the violence-prevention program Oakland Unite.
Dinner was washed down with a juicy and vibrant pinot noir from my six-pack of staff-selected bottles from the folks at Oakland Yard Wine Shop (420 40th Street). Sales from the bundle of wine went toward the Anti Police-Terror Project, a coalition working to end police violence. On a sunny afternoon I picked up a refreshing Manger A Trois Slushé, a blended cocktail of gin, Lillet blanc, Aperol, lemon, and mint from Friends and Family Bar (468 25th Street). Slushé sales benefited The Okra Project, which brings meals and resources to Black Trans people.
Proceeds from my pint of herby chrysanthemum ice cream from pop-up shop Little Spoon Creamery went toward the Okra Project’s mutual aid resource, the Nina Pop Mental Health Recovery Fund, which collects money for Black trans women seeking counselling as they cope with the murders (many of them publicized) of other Black trans women.
I loved the hearty fig and molasses bread from Sister (3308 Grand Avenue), but I especially loved that all sales from the bread were donated to Black Lives Matter. Finally, I happily got lost in the swirls of chocolate babka from Sara Eisen, baker and co-organizer of East Bay Bakers Against Racism, a good ol’-fashioned bake sale that raised thousands of dollars for the Anti Police-Terror Project and Black Organizing Project, a grassroots group invested in systemic change including working to remove police from the Oakland Unified School District. ♦
Meredith Pakier is an Oakland-based wine professional who has managed the beverage programs for bars, restaurants, and retail shops across the Bay Area. When she’s not experimenting in her home kitchen, she’s hiking with her dog, Nico.