Kongolese Heritage in the USA

“500 Years of African Presence in Florida and
European Presence in the Kongo Region”

Robin Poynor, University of Florida Professor of Art History,
School of Art + Art History

“Kongo Practices of Commemoration
Carried Across the Atlantic”

Hein Vanhee, Curator, Royal Museum for Central Africa

“Connecting African American Art to Kongo Culture”
Susan Cooksey, Harn Curator of African Art

Food Exploration 101

african_foodWhenever I’m in between adventures and I want to re-create some of those same feelings of exploration and inquisitiveness, but on a much cheaper scale, I turn to what I like to call “food exploration”. When your in an exotic country browsing local markets seeing…smelling…and tasting…the local delicacies is one of the highlights of the travel experience.  But what if your not in an exotic locale? It doesn’t matter.  You can explore foreign foods domestically or some of your area’s own local delicacies with a little research. Most of us live in or within driving distance of a fairly large metropolitan area…and with any large city comes diversity.  So here are the places I focus on when doing urban domestic food exploration:

Farmer’s Markets – The bad thing about most major supermarkets is that they rambutantend to carry what the majority of the population wants and it tends to get boring.  Farmer’s markets are a good option to find local fresh produce, but they are also a good way to find fruits/vegetables/local delicacies that you won’t find at a supermarket.  Prime example is the picture above.  While exploring a local farmers market that caters heavily to the local Asian population, I discovered the hairy little fruit bugger above called a Rambutan. They are in the same family as the Lychee from southeast Asia and absolutely delicious…. as my girlfriend can attest because she is now addicted to them.

Small Ethnic Groceries – These are a treasure trove of foods and food stuffs that may not be in your normal eating habits.  Asian, Latin,…etc groceries are less pressure than going to a restaurant where you can’t even read the menu, but also don’t often have full traditional meals prepared. Doesn’t mean you can’t try those strange looking bean curd desserts though! Just pick items that look good.  Some will be winners, and some will be losers.

Ethnic Neighborhoods – Any large city or metropolitan area will have a variety of different cultures represented.  These neighborhoods tend to stick together due to familiar culture and traditions… a perfect example being Chinatown in San Francisco, or Little Italy.  If you search out these neighborhoods they often offer some amazingly unique eats that people have brought back from cultures abroad.

Local Favorites – If something is good…or a local favorite, word of mouth often spreads pretty quickly. Polling the locals who have lived in a specific area for most, if not all of their lives will lead you to locals only spots that are hidden gems.

Internet Resources –  Just like word of mouth, if something is good people will talk about it.  Use Yelp and search engines to scope out different cuisines/restaurants/eateries…i.e. searching for (Ethiopian restaurant…etc.)

Some rules of exploration that may help you out.

  1. Always be inquisitive and friendly. People running these businesses want customers.
  2. If you don’t know what it is…ask. Most people are friendly and willing to help if they can.
  3. If it’s for sale and edible… someone ate it and liked it…but it doesn’t mean you will.
  4. Keep an open mind and don’t judge a whole cuisine based off one item.
  5. If you have food allergies… ask for help and read labels.  No sense going to the hospital when you have a allergy to shellfish and eat something stuffed full of them.
  6. If all of the menu is in English it might not be as traditional as you think…doesn’t mean its bad.
  7. If the place is full or there is a line…there’s a reason…it’s good.

African Inspiration for the Home

7 Rules for A Perfect Bedroom

african-bedroomWe all know we can’t compare the way we decorate our bedroom with the bathroom or our kitchen. They all have functional means in our house, but the bedroom has a very important role in our life. It is the room where we get rest, where we get relaxed and we have to give extra attention when it comes to its decoration.

Sometimes you wake up with a back pain, sometimes is a neck pain and it’s not only bed’s fault. Your bed fits as style in your bedroom and all the pillows from the bed seem to be having only one mean: look pretty. Go get the functional pillows, like a pillow that relieves your neck pains after a fussy side sleeping night (check our selection here: http://verycozyhome.com/best-pillow-for-neck-pain-for-side-sleepers/). You will be surprised to see the miracles a simple pillow can do and look pretty, at the same time J

Obviously, buying just a pillow won’t transform your bedroom in the perfect one. Scroll down to see our 7 rules when it comes to getting that…

Keep the calm and intimacy in your bedroom is the number one rule when it comes to a perfect bedroom. Choose devices and accesories that are silent for your bedroom. The continous „tic-tac” of a clock could make you go crazy at midnight! Avoid also the metalic glassto hang on the ceiling since it can move with every single breeze.

If you live in a studio apartment, try to give your bedroom some intimacy. It’s the only room in your house that you don’t share it with the rest of your family. A curtain or a wall well chosen might help you separate the bedroom from the rest of the house.

Another rule for your perfect bedroom is to decorate it with soothing colors. You must know by now that strong colors like red, orange or yellow tend to stimulate the senses. This is why we don’t use the strong colors that much in the bedroom. We can go instead with soothing colors like green, blue or grey. If you really want to jazz up your bedroom just a little bit, choose the bright colors for the accessories (the lamp, the decorative pillows and so on).

bedroom2Don’t clutter the bedroom is also a rule to follow if you want a nice bedroom. Armchairs, desk, trunk at the end of the bed, make-up table…Do you really need all that in your bedroom? If you add also the nightstand, the tallboy, and the dresser you will have trouble breathing in the end! Be selective when you choose the furniture so that you can have a practical room with an airy felling.

The curtains are the most important decorative accesssories in the bedroom. Dress up the windows to give privacy to the room and to also give it a touch of color. Choose a color for the curtains that matches the bed cover, the pillows, the upholstery.

Choose the right lighting in your bedroom if you want to get a calm feeling. Go for a delicate, relaxing lighting by installing bed lamps and not floodlight. If you also put light in the ceiling, seek one that has a dimmer so you can have as much light as you want or not.

Don’t forget to keep your bedroom organized if you want it to be perfect. We all know that it’s not common to have a single closet to fit all our clothes J. Throwing your dress on the bed when in a hurry it’s a 5minutes solution…This is why you have to choose practical furnishing. A bed base with drawers might gove you a nice solution, for instance.

Limit as much as you can the number of electrical devices in your bedroom is the last rule for your bedroom. Television has broken the rules for a long time now and it’s not only in the living room, but in all the rooms of our house, even in the bedroom. A TV hang to the wall where we can’t see its wires is fien. Even so, if the bedroom becomes a cinema with surrounding system, with kilometers of wires that hang on the wall, it’s clear that the bedroom has lost for good its intimacy and calm…