Seven Socially Conscious Food Events This Spring

As festival season ramps up, it’s important to go beyond the standard eat-drink-and-be-merry vibe — although there’s plenty of that, too.

Songkran Festival
The Thai national holiday technically falls on April 13, but to celebrate it for the first time, Jack London Square opted to include the Lao, Cambodian, and Myanma/Burmese communities and throw a free party two weeks later, on April 27. To commemorate a day when people traditionally feed monks to ensure prosperity in the coming year, Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine has created the longest Lao Table in the restaurant’s history. After serving family-style dishes on banana leaves in that resplendent setting, Thai dance and musical performances take over the capacious Oakland waterfront neighborhood, plus there’s even a beauty contest and a screening of Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior.
Saturday, April 27, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, 336 Water St., Oakland. Free. 

Restaurants and Living Wages in the #MeToo Era
While sexual harassment in the restaurant world remains a terrible blight on the industry, for many of the 13 million people it employs, wage theft can be just as pernicious — and the same marginalized employees are often on the receiving end. Tireless labor advocate, academic, and cofounder and president of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) Saru Jayamaran has worked to expose unfair and illegal practices suffused throughout American eateries, and on May 1, she presents her work at the JCC East Bay. Things will only get better when diners demand better.
Wednesday, May 1, 7-9 p.m., at the JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. $15-$20.

Taste of Potrero
For the last eight years, a constellation of restaurants and bars have gathered annually as if summoned for an assembly by the assistant principal — only instead of hearing about fascinating topics like magma or the metric system, it’s a benefit for Daniel Webster Elementary School. For 2019, more than 60 such places from Potrero Hill and beyond — including Curio, Uma Casa, Magnolia Brewing, Dandelion Chocolate, and Piccino — can be found at the Midway, making sure that underfunded schools get the supplies they need. Metric is pretty important, after all.
Thursday, May 2, 7-10 p.m., at the Midway, 900 Marin St. $150-$250.

In 2018, this electronic music and art festival made its U.S. debut in San Francisco to great success, and this year the organizers looked around at San Francisco and decided to add a culinary component. Under the guidance of chef-activist Anthony Myint, MUTEK.SF will donate some proceeds to eco nonprofit ZeroFoodPrint, feeding art-goers at three pop-ups with two seatings each. On Thursday, May 2, Preston Landers of the New Nordic sensation Naomi Ramen takes over Bite Unite (600 South Van Ness Ave.), while Myint himself runs the kitchen on Friday, May 3, and Tracy Goh of Laksa Project helms things on Saturday, May 4. Then, on Sunday, May 5, the festival culminates in Experience, a full day and night of tastings held at the Midway. MUTEK.SF loves its air of mystery, but deliciousness is the universal language.
May 2-5, at various venues,

Mississippi Masala: Dinner, Film & Tropitaal Soundclash!

The relationship between South Asians and Africans usually gets analyzed through the lens of the British Empire — Mohandas Gandhi spent two decades in South Africa, after all — but what about the dynamic between the South Asian and African diasporas? On May 4, MATATU’s Nomadic Cinema series presents Mississippi Masala: Dinner, Film & Tropitaal Soundclash!, a combination dinner, discussion, film screening, and dance party that properly contextualizes this shared cultural history. Chef Preeti Mistry serves a plated meal while co-host Heta Fell of Stance Podcast leads a discussion, all before guests watch Mira Nair’s 1991 film Mississippi Masala (starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury). Then it’s time to party until the wee hours, with DJ Anjali & the Incredible Kid and Cuban DJ Leydis.
Saturday, May 4, 6 p.m .-1:30 a.m., at Red Bay Coffee, 3028 East 10th St., Oakland, $10-$65.

Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox
Not technically edible, but illustrative nonetheless. MoAD’s main spring-summer exhibition examines the history of the Caribbean from the moment of European contact on. With participating artists from the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere, the 25 works in a variety of media question the power structures that have prevailed in the region more than two centuries after the Haitian Revolution, the first successful modern uprising against a colonial power by an enslaved people.
May 8-Aug. 11, at the Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St.,

First Annual Mission Bay Crab Crack
What’s the most misunderstood neighborhood in San Francisco? Don’t say ‘the East Cut,’ because it’s not even real. The answer is Mission Bay, a precinct that’s approaching buildout but which still lacks a fully developed identity. On Friday, May 10, the neighborhood ambles sideways toward a cohesive sense of place with the First Annual Mission Bay Crab Crack, an afternoon of seafood, wine, beer, and music that benefits the Giants Community Fund. Since China Basin is only blocks from the newly rechristened Oracle Park, you have the option of purchasing a ticket to the Giants-Reds game later that evening.
Friday, May 10, 3-7 p.m., 185 Berry St. $55-$65.

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