Dishes and Dances

Photo by Mata Independen.

St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Point Breeze will host an Indonesian Food Festival on March 23rd

By Joseph Myers

While roughly 10,000 miles separate Jakarta and her Montgomery County residence, Mutia Riasinta Penyami Storms, known by the nickname “Sinta,” never finds herself far from her Indonesian roots. She has been recognized as a central figure in the Indonesian cultural community since she founded Modero & Company, an Indonesian dance company, in 2011. On March 23, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m., she will oversee the Indonesian Food Festival at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, 18th and Morris streets.

The event promises to be a celebration of Indonesian culture, culinary arts, and community…and something more. “I have a deep respect for gatherings that remind us how united we all are, no matter our backgrounds,” the organizer said of the impetus for the upcoming event. “I want to make what we will offer to parishioners, community members, and guests a great example of that affection for such occurrences.”

More than 5,000 immigrants of Indonesian descent call South Philadelphia home. Through her dance company, Penyami Storms, a former Lower Moyamensing resident, works to preserve “the traditional Indonesian culture through dancing, food, events, and other experiences for South Philly’s Indonesian community, as well as the greater Philadelphia public.”

Photo by Mata Independen

“We provide a safe space for Indonesian community members to celebrate who they are,” the grant-winning artist said. The dance group’s motto, “Sintuwu Maroso,” which translates as “to live in harmony and strong as a community,” informs Penyami Storms’ partnership with St. Thomas Aquinas and its eponymous nonprofit social-service organization. The food festival is a way to gather the community, particularly young members, to show that now, perhaps more than ever, they should declare who they are with unrelenting pride. “So, I’m pretty excited to see the turnout for the festival because this is a great time of year to welcome newness into our lives while also building on what’s already strong within us.”

The event will offer food as well as Indonesian arts and crafts, such as batik apparel and jewelry by Davas Batik. Penyami Storms provides updates about the offerings on the event’s Facebook page.

Current food options include:

  • Fresh-grilled chicken and lamb satay by Warung Cak’Lil
  • Beef meatball soup with all the fixings
  • Vegan and vegetarian options include jackfruit, tofu, tempe and more by Pecel Ndeso
  • Pecel Lele or Pecak lele, a popular Javanese deep-fried Clarias catfish dish served with traditional sambal chili paste, fried tempeh and/or tofu and steamed rice
  • Make-your-own bubur ayam station. This rice congee dish features shredded chicken served with condiments, including chopped scallion, crispy fried shallot, fried soybean, Chinese crullers, and both salty and sweet soy sauce.
  • Martabak Manis, the very popular Indonesian sweet treat by Martabak OK

Penyami Storms anticipates the event will bring “great attendance, a sense of happiness among the community, and great sales for our vendors.” But more than these measures of success, she added, “Cultural preservation is vital to me. Each chance I have to help Indonesians build themselves up and give others a sense of that potential, I’m going to maximize it.”

Indonesian Food Festival: Winter/Spring 2019
March 23, 2019 at 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
St. Thomas Aquinas Church
1719 Morris Street

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