Robert Karimi

Jeffrey Machtig, Star Tribune

Reflecting on foods of our ancestors

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH
  • Star Tribune
  • October 28, 2011 - 7:07 PM

Robert Karimi is a man on a food mission.

Through his comic alter ego, "Mero Cocinero Karimi," the playwright hopes to get people -- especially people of color -- thinking about their food roots.

By that, he means reflecting on where their ancestors came from and how they ate.

Why bother?

According to Karimi and many nutritionists, diabetes is on the rise among immigrants and their children.

The causes vary, but one theme is common: As immigrants adapt to their new homeland, they often abandon their old eating habits.

Some used to walk to get places and now find themselves sitting in a car all the time.

Others drank more water instead of soda or juice.

Many simply had more time to cook. Our go-go-go culture feeds our need for processed foods that can be devoured quickly.

Enter "Viva Las Roots," Karimi's upcoming cooking show at Intermedia Arts.

The show, which opens Saturday night, features a pop-up kitchen with seating for 50.

Through it, Karimi aims to teach audience members that eating ethnic foods can actually make them healthier.

The son of an Iranian father and Guatemalan mother, he got the idea for the show from personal experience: His father was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

"It was interesting because as I interviewed people and we started talking about how they got Type 2, it wasn't one thing," Karimi said. "There are so many factors about living here that makes it happen."

While the menu remains a closely guarded secret, Karimi was willing to let a couple of things spill. The meal will have an Iranian-Guatemalan-Filipino-Mexican flavor. And he's going to introduce a new way to use injera -- a spongy bread from East Africa.

Tickets cost $15. Viva Las Roots runs Saturday and Sunday and from Nov. 2-5. Show time is at 7 p.m. Intermedia Arts is at 2822 Lyndale Av. S. in Minneapolis.

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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