3 Easy Ways to Introduce Middle Eastern Culture to East Bay Kids - 510 Families
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3 Easy Ways to Introduce Middle Eastern Culture to East Bay Kids

Thanks to Stephanie Meade for this guest post. Stephanie is the founder and editor of InCultureParent.com, a tremendous resource for parents raising global citizens.

One of the things I love about the Bay Area is the wealth of opportunities to explore other cultures. Whether it’s Day of the Dead or Diwali, there is always a fun tradition to introduce our children to in our community. Here are some of my favorite ways and places to celebrate Middle Eastern Culture with my family.

Middle Eastern Drumming & Art for Kids

I am always looking for Arab-related events since my kids are half-Moroccan. One of the Bay Area’s preeminent organizations related to the promotion of Arabic culture, Zawaya (and no, I am not affiliated with them in some way), hosts really cool events for adults and children. We have seen fantastic workshops on Islamic arts and culture. We’ve also tried the Introduction to Middle Eastern Percussion for Kids classes when offered in Oakland. At ages four and five, my kids loved banging on drums and I love Middle Eastern music.  Plus they get exposed to a slice of their heritage. It’s a win-win. When not in a pandemic, Zawaya often offers children’s workshops on henna, mosaic tiling, and geometric design in Islamic art.

From experience, I know the approach of Zawaya is to foster bridges between Muslims and the non-Muslim community so all are welcome and encouraged to attend. And if you like Middle Eastern music, they put on a series of great concerts of Arabic music throughout the year, with huge music ensembles. The events are kid-friendly—I took my then three and four-year-olds to two concerts that they loved.

Eating Middle Eastern in the East Bay

Oasis Café, Oakland. If you want to make a Middle Eastern day of it, you can grab a quick bite to eat after at Oasis Café and Market on 31st and Telegraph.  The café food does the trick when your kids are getting whiny and want something fast, but what I really like about Oasis is the food shopping. Don’t miss their giant Yemeni flatbread (that actually used to be even bigger) baked fresh every day, feta cheese, and harissa if you like spice.
Location: 3045 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

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Turkish Kitchen. For dessert, have you ever gotten disappointed by baklava that’s too dry or missing the appropriate balance of crunchy and gooey? Has finding the best baklava proved elusive? I have your answer: Turkish Kitchen. The heavenly baklava makes all taste buds swoon. And yes, I know Turkey is not part of the Arab world, but it’s a very close cousin. Not including this baklava would have been unmentionable! Aside from their baklava, their kofte and lahmacun are also delish. Be sure to order a Turkish coffee to go with your baklava—if you’re lucky you can get someone to read the coffee grinds left in your cup.
Location: 1986 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley

Find more global cuisine flavors your kids will might like >

Shopping for Middle Eastern goodies

To round out your Middle Eastern day, stop by Sahara Import on Piedmont Ave in Oakland to add a splash of flavor to your home décor. Moroccan lights, coffee tables, and bean-bag style cushions make great accent pieces for any house.
Location: 3953 Piedmont Ave, Oakland

And most of all, enjoy your taste of North Africa and the Middle East!

Thanks again to Stephanie Meade for this guest post. Stephanie is the founder and editor of InCultureParent.com.

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