April Ful's Night

April Ful's Night was an outdoor communal meal and conversation centered on Egypt’s 2011 revolution, and the subsequent uprisings throughout the Middle East. Over roasted goat and fava bean ful (Egypt's national dish, pronounced "fool"), we conversed about the emotional impact and political relevance of the spirit of liberation that has ignited imaginations around the world.

The event was organized for the Oakland Standard by the Citizens Laboratory, a platform for artists to engage with civic and urban issues. The group is connected with OPENrestaurant, a collaborative of chefs and artists who explore issues related to the production, distribution, and consumption of food.

In addition to a meal prepared in an open-air kitchen with an all-volunteer crew of Chez Panisse chefs and helpers, the evening included music and spoken word, a selection of documentary and artist videos in the Gallery of California Art, handmade banners and signs, a live Skype link to Cairo, and time for guests to speak to their own experience.

Amanda Eicher, Valerie Imus, and Jerome Waag of the Citizens Laboratory worked closely with dozens of Bay Area residents, small businesses, and organizations to organize this program.

Silkscreen designs by Dunya Alwan, stencils by Ganzeer, painted posters by Somaya Abdelgany and the UC Berkeley Muslim Student Association. Workshop assistants: Ohannah Berry,  Marcelo Gutierrez, Sarah Madden, Tammy Nguyen, Omar Sanchez, Amanda San Martin, Zoe Scholz, Julia Tovar.

Many thanks to Berkeley High School and Tamar Beja at the UC Berkeley Printshop.

(Oakland) Standard ful with fresh fava beans and mint; Yemeni ful, donated by Maisa restaurant; Oakland Jordanian ful (recipe from Makan Art Space); Amman roasted goat and lamb from Marwa Halal Market, Oakland, with wild fennel and red chili; and fresh bread from Oasis Market, Oakland. Prepared by Jerome Waag, with Chris Crawford, Suzanne Drexhage, Chris Kronner, Alix Lacloche, Anthony Sueuga, Sam White, and the many volunteers who shelled fava beans.

Skype conversation with Taha Belal in Cairo, Egypt; Makan Art Space in Amman, Jordan; and Azin Seraj in Dehkadeh, Iraq.

More on Twitter, #Egypt.

The program MC was Mina Girgis from the Zambaleta World Music School. Live music by Tim Fuson, Moh Alileche, and the Dunes. Discussion with Mokhtar Alkhanshali, Omar Dajani, Omar Kelani, Fred Lawson, Abdalla Nassar, Deana Nassar, Dr. Aftim Saba, Omar Shakir, and Dr. Adnan Shennib. Spoken word by Zienab Abdelgany and artists from UC Berkeley's Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine.


On view in the Museum gardens: Nada Shalaby's performance piece, Fol with Yasmeen: An Approximation, and Taha Belal's video projection of the sun rising in Egypt as it was setting in California.

On view in the Museum's Gallery of California Art: a video program of work by contemporary artists from Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and Iran.

Special thanks to the following institutions and individuals:

Aida Eltorie and Finding Projects, Cairo, Egypt
Arab Cultural Center, San Francisco
Arab Student Union, UC Berkeley
Azin Seraj, Oakland/Dehkadeh, Iran
Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley
Dunya Alwan, Oakland/Iraq
Ganzeer, Cairo, Egypt
Larissa Sansour, Jerusalem/London
Maisa Restaurant, Oakland
Marwa Market, Oakland
Middle East Children’s Alliance, Berkeley
Muslim Students Association, UC Berkeley
Oasis Market and Restaurant, Oakland
Ola Khalidi, Diala Khasawnih, and Makan House, Amman, Jordan
Students for Justice in Palestine, UC Berkeley
Taha Belal, Cairo, Egypt
Zambaleta World Music and Dance School, San Francisco


April Ful’s Night also marked the occasion of the 2011 California Studies Association conference “Food Fights: Popular Struggles Beyond California Cuisine”.