Pies at the ready: Seniors prep for this weekend's Black Cuisine Festival

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"This is the hippest, hottest senior center in the city," said a volunteer as she shredded chicken. Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center was in full cooking mode, preparing for Sat/2's Black Cuisine Festival. There were sweet potato pies baking in the oven, fresh-battered catfish sizzling in oil, and pans of corn bead cooling on tables, waiting to be crumbled into a chicken dressing. The smells were intoxicating.

This community knows how to put on a food festival. Saturday will mark the 33rd year of the center's food festival, and I was excited to get a sneak peek of Saturday's dishes. So were the volunteers. I've never seen a group of octogenarians jump up and rush a table as fast as they did. These old-timers know good soul food -- and how to ensure it tastes just as good as their parents' cooking.

This weekend's event will be packed with things to do, see, hear, and eat with two music stages, a kid's area, a marketplace selling locally made goods, VIP lounge, cook-off contest with prizes, and of course, plenty of classic black cuisine, dished up by Big Mama's Kitchen. For those squeemish about the idea of eating traditional black cuisine, be assured: Big Mama's Light also offers vegan and low-fat options.

Reverand Hall gave us a tour of the senior center before frying us up some of his fabulous catfish, giving me a chance to meet some of the people that the Senior Center provides for. Sitting down with a group of women making dolls to sell at the fair, I learned how they come to the Center every day to visit friends, take classes, use the computers, share in daily meals, go on field trips, and play bingo (of course). Going to the festival is their annual ritual, and, for so many reasons, they told me I just had to go.  

Listen to your elders and come out this Saturday, have a plate, and support Bay View Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services. Bon appetit!

Black Cuisine 2013

Sat/2, 11am-7pm, $25

Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center

1706 Yosemite, SF

www.bhpmss.org