Last week I wrote about the new Austin Landmark Cultural Center. It will be located in the Laramie State Bank building at 5200 W. Chicago Ave. The idea of having a cultural center for Austin was the brainchild of the building’s owner, John Young. Earline Ruffin will be the director of the cultural center. I have agreed to serve on the center’s board, and am proud that Dr. Margaret Burroughs, who founded the DuSable Museum of African American History, is a major mentor to us in this undertaking.

One of the reasons I decided to come on board with the Austin Landmark Cultural Center is because the major focus out of everyone’s mouth was that we wanted to “do something”. But what would that “something” be? It would have to be something grand, because we have taken on the role of being the group to celebrate African-American culture. Our culture is celebrated in dance and music. Our culture can be heard every Sunday as we give praise. But most of all, our culture is best represented by its foundation in food. Unlike other groups whose food is known by the country they came from – Italian, Mexican, French, German, etc. – our food is called Soul Food. Not only does it nurture the stomach, it also feeds the soul.

Our first event as the Austin Landmark Cultural Center is celebrating soul food. We call the event, “Taste of Thanksgiving Sides”. Those are the dishes we commonly associate with Thanksgiving. We don’t have pumpkin pie – we have sweet potato pie. We don’t call it stuffing – we call it dressing. And then there’s a dish so simple in its ingredients but few cooks can make: that’s banana pudding.

One of the first people to call to participate in our Taste is Miz Yolanda. She brought us a sample of her banana pudding – Excellent! The pudding was light and not too sweet. The bananas were firm and not overripe. Everything about the pudding said fresh! So she has become the first Austinite to sign on to participate.

Here is how the Taste will work. We are looking for chefs, cooks and entrepreneurs who want to showcase their specialties. On Saturday Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Austin Landmark Cultural Center, the community will have a chance to sample items made by local people. If you like what you sample, you can order from that person. We have our Miz Yolanda’s ‘Nana Puddin’. We are still looking for others to showcase their cakes, pies, and other “Sides”.

At the event, each side taste will cost between $1 and $2. We are asking for a donation of $1 at the door to help cover the cost of future programming at the Austin Landmark Cultural Center. There is not an upfront fee to those who participate. Instead, we ask that you make a small donation based on your sales.

This event is open to those starting off in their business, struggling in their business or needing to just grow their business. We are still in the process of accepting participants, so contact Earline Ruffin at 773/378-0212 or 773/787-7054.

I know that many of you have questions. So I contacted Garfield Majors, who has moved his radio show to WPNA 1490 AM. Since I will be on the radio, I won’t do the conference call this Sunday. The show is still on Sunday nights, but now it starts even earlier at 9:30. The phone number to the station is 708/524-9762.