Tucson restaurateurs highlight joys of community in busy winter season

A handful of Tucson’s restaurateurs are working through the holidays, but instead of dreading their blistering schedule they’re welcoming in the busy season. Filling your plates and bowls warms their souls.

Jason McCarty, a managing partner at Eclectic Cafe, says he sees the 37-year-old eatery as an unofficial anchor of Tucson’s eastside. Moving forward, McCarty hopes Eclectic stays vibrant and continues to grow without losing its “family feel.”

Eclectic has served three generations of regular customers, says McCarty. Their dedicated staff play an integral role at the restaurant, he says, and watching some of their servers get hired at age 17, then work their way through college has been an honor. “And the customers love hearing about their progress.”

“After the consistency of the food, that’s what makes our place different — the relationships the customers have with the staff,” says McCarty.

Tucson’s seasonal residents will make Eclectic their first stop when they return here for the winter, popping in to make sure the eatery didn’t fall apart, says McCarty with a laugh.

“We love our regular customers, we love to see new customers,” says McCarty. “We love this time of year.”

Although Eclectic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, they will take special orders for holiday meals for pick-up until about a week prior. 

On Monday, Dec. 4, Pastiche Modern Eatery will host its first cocktail pairing dinner, says manager Chris Kroebig. Everyone does a wine or beer pairing event, Kroebig explains, but Pastiche decided to mix it up and show off their liquor selection, which includes 250 types of whiskey. The event will kick off at 6 p.m., cost $60 per person and $110 for couples and reservations are required. Many of the libations will feature products from locally owned distilleries.

Kroebig says as one of the founding partners of the Tucson Originals Restaurants, Pastiche strives to build up independent dining entrepreneurship and local farmers in every way possible.

During the bustling holiday season, their clientele is always very thankful that Pastiche is open, he says. “People definitely appreciate it, and we get a little flutter in our hearts when we hear it.”

It’s a family oriented atmosphere at Pastiche, says Kroebig, explaining many regular customers have invited staff members to weddings and birthday parties, because of the relationships that are built at the local eatery.

The reverse is also true.

“I’ve had people here that I don’t know other than at the restaurant invited to my mother’s birthday party last year,” he says. “And it feels pretty good.”

Read about a handful of other Tucson eateries here. Originally published on Nov. 17, 2017.

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Yemen facing largest famine the world has seen for decades, warns UN aid chief

UN News Centre — Yemen will be gripped by famine — one the likes of which the world has not seen in years — if the blockade on basic supplies into the country imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is not lifted immediately, the top United Nations humanitarian official has warned.

“It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades,” Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the media late Wednesday, after briefing the Security Council.

Three years into a brutal conflict, Yemen depends on imports – amounting to up to 90 per cent of its daily needs – and millions in the country are being kept alive by humanitarian aid.

The fighting has also all but collapsed the country’s health, and water and sanitation systems. Combined with the lack of food, millions of lives – including those of children – will be lost as their bodies will simply not have the strength to fight off disease.

“What kills people in famine is infections […] because their bodies have consumed themselves, reducing totally the ability to fight off things which a healthy person can,” added Mr. Lowcock.

Underscoring that an immediate resumption of regular UN and relief organizations’ air services to the capital, Sana’a, and Aden are critical to save lives, Mr. Lowcock, also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that a clear and immediate assurance is also urgently needed that those services will not be disrupted.

Furthermore, all vessels that have passed inspection by the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism should not be subjected to interference, delays to or blockages so that they can proceed to port as rapidly as possible, he added.

“This is really important because humanitarian access through the ports was inadequate even before the measures that were announced on 6 November,” said the senior UN official.

He also called for an immediate agreement to the prepositioning of the World Food Programme — the UN’s emergency food relief agency – vessel in the waters off Aden, assurances that there will be no further disruption to the functions the vessel supports, as well as resumption of humanitarian and commercial access to all the seaports of Yemen.

At the stakeout, Mr. Lowcock, also underscored the Organization’s condemnation of the missile attack on the Saudi capital, Riyadh, over the weekend, terming it an outrageous act.

The coalition imposed the restrictions following the attack, effectively closing air, sea and land access to the war-torn country.

Vaccines will run out in a month — humanitarian group

Meanwhile, the humanitarian community in Yemen also warned that the current stock of vaccines in the country will only last one month and if not replenished, outbreaks of communicable diseases are to be expected with fatal consequences, particularly for children under five and those already suffering from malnutrition.

“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely fragile and any disruption in the pipeline of critical supplies such as food, fuel and medicines has the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death,” said humanitarian organizations, including the UN, working in Yemen in a joint statement Thursday.

“The continued closure of borders will only bring additional hardship and deprivation with deadly consequences to an entire population suffering from a conflict that it is not of their own making,” they added.

(All rights reserved by the UN News Centre. Redistributed for informational purposes only.)

CAI scholar-in-residence to explore Kabbalah’s power, mystery

When medieval Christians claimed that Jewish history and religious practice was in decline, the Kabbalah, a mystical school of thought in Judaism, provided a powerful reimagining of Judaism, says Hartley Lachter, Ph.D., associate professor of religion studies at Lehigh University.

“Kabbalah argues that there is this secret way in which Judaism is not only a relevant religion, but the central religion — thanks to which, the entire universe itself continues to exist,” says Lachter. “And that it’s by virtue of Jewish religious practice that the unity of God is maintained.”

Kabbalah is an esoteric and secret language that attempts to explain the relationship between the divine and human worlds. 

Lachter is the 2017 scholar-in-residence at Congregation Anshei Israel, who will lead multiple community events from Nov. 9-11.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here. Originally published on Oct. 3, 2017. Photograph by Samuel David Henry.