In 2018 I began writing about Bangladeshi food and culture. I took part in the WDET Storymakers cohort in collaboration with Feet in Two Worlds for a food writing fellowship. During this time I wrote about two radio stories from the Bangladeshi community; a restaurant which doubled-up as a community center, and a cake baker who created a home-based business with the help of social media. Since then, I wrote about various food stories in the Bangladeshi community – from a refugee making a new home in Metro Detroit while she worked at a famous chocolate store to Ramadan traditions specific to the Bangladeshi community like making iftar boxes to-go. These stories were featured in Tostada Magazine, Eater Detroit and other publications. This inspired me to create my own newsletter to share more of these stories of hope, resilience and the entrepreneurial spirit in Detroit.
Subscribe to Saa Nasta Newsletter to learn more about Bangladeshi food and culture. Saa Nasta refers to “tea and snacks” commonly used for breakfast or a afternoon tea time. The idea of Saa Nasta to bring people together and build community.
Some of our recent stories:
Shapla Latif, Makeup by Shapla
“Ever since she can remember Shapla Latif remembers peaking over her mom’s shoulder to watch what she was cooking.
“When I was very young I would play with my cousins and friends we used to cook outside. My mom used to make a lot of stuff. I used to watch her. I was so interested and think, ‘When I grow up I will learn.’”
Shamole Ahmed, Desi Taste
“Shamole Ahmed picked up on her mother Runa Chowdhury’s knack for cooking when she was away for undergrad and grad school. Now the mother-daughter duo combined their skills to create Desi Taste, a place to shop for homemade ghee, clarified butter, and made-to-order products.”
Sadya Chowdhury, Zafreen’s Kitchen
“When the pandemic started Sadya Chowdhury lost her job at Greektown where she worked as a cashier. She stayed at home to care for her child and naturally, was cooking more.
“I just started working in September of 2019 and in March 2020 they shut down our hotel,” she said.
Meanwhile, a cousin who knew how much Chowdhury liked to cook asked if she could cook food for a friend who contracted the coronavirus. That became Chowdhury’s first customer, who she served solely for three months.
“I never thought I’d do food catering. I knew I wanted to do something with food,” she said.
During that time Chowdhury began taking pictures of the foods, custom and posting them to her Instagram page @ZafreensKitchen in March. Zafreen is her dhaknam, or nickname.”
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