If there is anything that stands between me and a wholly local food existence it is undoubtedly my love of dining out — especially in small, authentic, ethnic atmospheres. That and guacamole. Unfortunately, Michigan weather is not terribly conducive to the growing of avocados.
There is something about walking into a family-run food establishment and being recognized by the person behind the counter; about them knowing your favorite dishes, your family and that you are interested not just in lunch but their life. It is something that feeds not just the body but the soul. And occasionally I find sacrificing some fossil fuel for that satisfaction is entirely worthwhile.
When I first happened across East & West Gourmet Afghan Food, a company that you can find both on Foodzie and on their personal website online, my heart skipped a little beat. Both excited to have found such an awesome product — one not available, to my knowledge, locally — and a bit saddened not to live near enough to meet the staff in person I jotted down their information to share here later. A few weeks ago, when I decided the last week of each month here should be dedicated to the discovery of one cool new producer I knew they had to be the first.
East and West Gourmet Afghan Food is the story of an Afghan woman and her family’s struggle in the search for a better life. Supported by her husband and eldest son they immigrated to the US and founded East and West Gourmet Food.
Originally the companies signature Bolani — a traditional Afghan flatbread stuffed with spinach, potato, pumpkin or lentil filling — was found only in San Francisco Bay area farm markets, but through word of mouth and excellent customer service has grown exponentially in just over five years worth of business.
Billal Sidiq is an “Ambassador of Love” in most of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Farmers’ Markets and even beyond. He represents his company with an inviting face, running mouth, and hands full of samples. Today East and West participates in up to 100 farmers’ markets every week. The product is now also found in Whole Foods markets and Andronico’s.
Relatively inexpensive, packed with nutrients, low in calories and carbohydrates, East & West’s Bolani has been getting rave reviews from foodies around the country. If you happen to try them out, let me know what you think!