I was born in Fresno and grew up here, as did my husband and my parents. I'm thrilled to be raising my young son here too! I've gone away for school and spent brief periods in other parts of California, but have always ended up homesick for my hometown.
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Have you heard of the Better Blackstone Association?
Made up of leaders from businesses, institutions, and neighborhoods along the Blackstone Corridor, its mission is to make Blackstone Avenue “a successful place for expanding and starting businesses, safe and clean neighborhoods, mixed-use developments, rapid transit systems, and convenient services, recreation, and entertainment that meet everyday needs.”
Essentially, the goal is to bring the Blackstone community together while focusing on local highlights and promoting positive improvements as a group. “A better Blackstone means a better Fresno,” as the group’s website says.
One of the ways the Better Blackstone Association promotes positive improvements is by creating events along the corridor, such as a recent multicultural food expo in Manchester Center.
Bites on Blackstone
“What’s Cooking Fresno: Bites on Blackstone” is an event that pulls together local arts and crafts, cultural performers, vendors and exhibitors, and entertainment by Cerro Negro. Not to mention, delicious food! It’s as great as it sounds.
I attended the March 12 event, which was a celebration of soup. If you missed that one, don’t worry—another will take place Sunday, April 2. That one will focus on “stuffed, wrapped, and rolled delights” — seriously, how fantastic does that sound? Details below.
The expo was set up near the carousel, and when we got there early on, it was already bustling with activity. Walking up to the entrance was a treat for the senses. Delicious food aromas wafted through the air, giant flowers hung from the upper level, and people meandered from booth to booth happily tasting and talking as they completed the difficult but important task of establishing which booth and which country had brought the tastiest soup to the table.
There were lots of activities to peruse while you sampled your soup. The setup allowed you to hang out and watch cooking demos up front, helpfully bolstered by a big screen so everyone could catch a close up of the detail work of each chef.
Vendors also lined the walls, bringing gorgeous textiles and local art to the party — or in the case of local artist Jason Bonilla, silk-screening of both t-shirts and tortillas with equal aplomb. (Nutella silk-screening on tortillas is underrated as an artistic medium.)
It was really cool to get to see and sample so many diverse cultural cuisines in one concentrated spot. Sancocho, Jackfruit Soup, Daikon Soup with Spareribs, Southern Vegetable Soup, and Southern Chili were just a few of the contenders at the tasting booths.
In the end, Southern Chili was the big winner, beating out the Daikon Sparerib Soup by just ONE vote!
How to Attend the Next Cooking Expo
Want to put in your two cents at the next cooking expo?
The March event sold out, so you’ll want to make sure to get your tickets in advance. (Again, the next theme is “stuffed, wrapped, and rolled treats” from around the globe, so you know it’s gonna be amazing.)
If you’d like to check out “What’s Cooking Fresno? Bites on Blackstone: Stuffed, Wrapped, and Rolled Delights,” it’s coming up on Sunday, April 2, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Manchester Center.
Hope to see you there!