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Jun 30, 2008 07:22 PM

Places of worship that will feed you...

The thread on the Thai temples had me thinking. There are many groups that have regular dinners or meals for special occasions. I have fond memories of eating at Father Divine's in Philly when I was a college student in the seventies. I have eaten at ashrams and gone to Lao and Cambodian Buddhist temples at festival time (especially new years to eat). I had great Ethiopian food at Lake Merritt several years ago at a September New Years festival (sponsored by the Ethiopian Church in Oakland). Of course there are the many Barbecue Chicken dinners at African American Churches, crabfests and pancake breakfasts in congregations across denomination. Any other regular festivals or weekly meals people can recommend. To me these are opportunities where one gets to experience "food in context" with the people who prepare it. So much of eating is who you are dining with. Hidden Kitchens with spiritual twist.

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  1. Since you are already in the North Bay this will be less of a trip for you than me.

    The Temple of Ten Thousand Buddha in Ukiah has food available of most days. Prices are reasonable. If you are lucky enough to go on a Holiday then food is free.

    Hope the link helps.

    Jyun Kang
    4951 Bodhi Way, Ukiah, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: yimster

      Have been there already--- had the worst migraine headache of my life from all the mushroom based food. Didn't find it that outstanding- very bland for me. Grounds were pretty and peaceful. People there very nice.
      Still is a 75 min trip from Petaluma-- lots of gas for not so exciting food.

      1. re: yimster

        Jyun Kang is owned by a monastery, but it's run like any restaurant--sort of like Greens in SF. I was sure I posted about our meal on the California board but I can't find it. Some of the food was OK, some wasn't, not in any hurry to go back. Fun once if you're passing through Ukiah

        1. re: Robert Lauriston


          Jyun Kang
          4951 Bodhi Way, Ukiah, CA

        2. re: yimster

          AWESOME food at the Sunday brunch at the Thai Temple off of MLK st in Berkley. Super long lines sometimes but SO worth it. I lived in SE Asia last year and this is the closest thing th real thai food in every way from the tables and chaid to the sauces and cooking methods. Try the fried chicken! it is addictive...seriously.

          1. re: wineweasel

            Most of the food is brought in from local restaurants such as Tuk Tuk so is basically like getting takeout. The fried chicken was an exception, but they may not be doing the it any more. More details:


        3. It's had to figure out what you are looking for, since you seem to be mixing food metaphors, so to speak. I'd associate the "spritiual twist" meals with food that is served free, or provided for a nominal fee or voluntary donation on a daily, or at least weekly basis, to all comers, so that it will reach those who need it most. The "spiritual twist" here is that it's seen as a mandate from above, or, alternatively, as a good device for proselytizing. "Food in context" sounds to me like annual or ad-hoc fund-raising events with (usually) an ethnic hook. These can be church-connnected, but often are not, like the recent cyclone relief Burmese Food Festival held in NY (Sunnyside, Queens). In the latter instance, spirituality is kept out of it, or at least downplayed, in the interest of keeping the market as broad-based as possible.

          1. There are certainly places of worship in San Francisco that serve food to the public, such as Glide or Saint Anthony's, or the religious groups that set up tables of food for the homeless in Civic Center. I can't imagine recommending these places for exquisite chowhound food, nor would I feel comfortable taking food that ought to go to somebody more needy. But your "food in context" comment made me think that you might enjoy experiencing lesser food in a greater context. In that case, I would recommend volunteering at one of these places. Experience the satisfaction and relief that food can bring to those who can't provide for themselves.

            5 Replies
            1. re: weem

              I think that was a good reply.

              By and large, faith based community events put their focus on the community rather then the culinary experience. Much of the food and time is donated, and they're either providing meals to the less fortunate, or they're doing it for their congregations, often to raise money. I can't imagine you're going to get the best bbq or best anything in a recreation room for an outreach event for a religion you don't even subscribe to.

              That said, if the OP is trying to explore different cultures, most religions have an open door, and frequent food events which are accessible by getting on the mailing lists, or checking the websites. The Jewish community holds traditional dinners/events around specific holidays (passover, yom kippur, purim, etc.) and you can get a free piece of honey cake on a weekly basis. If you're on the mailing list you can find out about special nights for Sephardic dinners, and that type of thing which are meant to be educational. Rarely are they free, and if they are, you're still expected to give a little something. Oddly enough, the more affluent Churches, Synagogues, etc. aren't likely to serve the most authentic cuisine either. The Armenian Church on Brotherhood way has a food fair.... and there's probably a whole circuit you could do that way.

              Outside of that, you would have to have a high tolerance for Hare Krishnas.

              1. re: sugartoof

                Are the Hare Krishnas still around? I remember when they were so visible on the streets of San Francisco that Herb Caen dubbed them "Tourist Trappists".

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  Yup! I think they are most visible around Berkeley these days but I think they started in San Francisco. It's my understanding they serve some kind of peanut sauce noodle dish., or curry of some sort.

              2. re: weem

                <<<But your "food in context" comment made me think that you might enjoy experiencing lesser food in a greater context.>>>


                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Yes, I am a food without pretense kind of person. For me it is as important to have "authentic food" with the "authentic people." Food for me is more than eating. A way to sample culture, learn new things about other kinds of people. Also a way to learn about commonalities and differences.
                  Restuarant food can be very different from food cooked in the home, at a place of worship or festival. Sometimes the restuarant fair alters things to suit the "US palate."
                  Not mixing metaphors but enjoying a "mixed experience":)

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                1. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Reportedly they're not opening until 10, so don't get there before that, and don't be surprised if they're closed.