Honor Thy Neighbor Festival

Today was the annual Honor Thy Neighbor Festival at the Alachua Hare Krishna Temple. Maha-maya Mataji organized the festival and a couple of days ago I spoke with her about vending there. She was contacting the usual crew of vendors and my husband and I thought…what the heck. So last nite and this morning I got stuff together for selling at the temple.

When I got to the festival to set up, I felt a little out of place. I was the only person there vending. Not only that, the crowd was a little thin to start off. I am slightly self conscious of selling stuff at the temple, my house of worship. I should be there to glorify God, but instead I am there to glorify my wallet. I know, I know, there are so many ways to look at it. I am providing quality food for the community. My business is a cottage industry, something our spiritual leader, Srila Prabhupada, encouraged. And we need the money I earn to be able to pay for our children’s education at the gurukula (Hare Krishna private school.). And people really like my stuff. It’s not like I am selling crack. Or Doritos. But still, there is an injunction that one should not go to a place of pilgrimage to make money. And I am always grossly aware of this injunction while standing at my table selling things.

And sell things I did. The night started out slowly but being the only vendor definitely had its advantages. I sold out of kebobs, cheesecake, cookies and foccacia pretty quickly. And sausage, granola, vanilla sugar and jam did well, too. As usual, people were disappointed when the kebobs sold out. As usual, Puskar gave me a hard time about Hare Krishnas “not selling meat.” Funny guy. The cheesecake was a new addition to the table and sold marvelously. This is not a wimpy cheesecake. The slices are huge and dense. I flavored it with extra-long Madagascar vanilla beans and topped it with Sabjimata Strawberry Conserve.

Now I need to clean my two kitchens and get some yeasted dough rising for tomorrow’s Sunday feast table.

I could slickly incorporate the pics into the text of this posting, but I am way too exhausted for that. So just take a look….

I knew it was going to be a good nite when the goddess Laksmi Devi stopped by my table to bestow blessings.  She is in very high demand, pausing momentarily from her cell phone conversation in Swedish to pose for this shot.

The right stuff–no one balked at the price tag of $4 a slice.  Well, a few did, but they ponied up the cash anyway.  Irresistible.

Tonite’s Harriet’s selection:  Strawberry, Saffron Cardamom Peach and Gooseberry.

The gluten kabobs are the main attraction these days.  An interesting comment tonite: “Shish kabob…is this a Muslim dish?”  Asalaam Alekam!

Okay.  This is Alice, Puskar’s mom. And I *love* her.  She is 84 and can totally kick my butt!!!  And if you vote for McCain/Palin, she just might kick yours.  She is my Jewish fantasy.  She lived on the lower east side of New York, was a total radical activist artist type and a jock (she still works out 3 times a week).  When I asked her what she thought of this Hare Krishna stuff she just waved her hand at me and said, “I met Prabhupada way before Puskar.  I was hanging out with Ginsberg.”  This woman, my friends, ain’t no joke!

La Boheme:  Maha-kiriti (on the left) hails from the Czech Republic. Maha-buddhi (right) is descended from Slavic bohemians.  The two rejoiced over Harriet’s thumbprint cookies (here happily shown holding said cookies) as they reminded them of pastry from their childhood.  Kolach is a yeasted bohemian pastry the size of a dinner plate. The dough is like a pizza more than a cookie and it is filled with jam.  Kolachek are the same thing, but smaller…about the size of Harriet’s.  I was also told about a beautiful pastry made with a yeasted dough and filled with fruit.  The pastry looks like a fruit filled balloon.  The twisted top is then turned upside down to bake and the result is a delicious bag of fruit.  Oh to be European.

Honor They Neighbor Festival attendees under the big tent to watch….

Vrinda perform South Indian folk dance (she is telling about the dance here).  There was also a play and some other stuff (I think).  Ooooh.

Gimme the foccacia…and make it quick!  This poor mom had a very crying daughter (not pictured) who needed to be fed so they could get back to the tent to see the dancing.


As you can see, it is not so bad selling stuff at my table.  I get to hang out with all kinds of nice people and listen to everyone’s conversations as they stand around eating stuff they just bought.  I mean…whatever you say at my table, stays at my table.  Unless, of course, it makes its way onto the blog.

Just kidding 😉
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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Honor Thy Neighbor Festival

  1. Padi

    I wish I could have come. Instead I was sleeping. Oh to work normal hours! Looks like it was a lot of fun though, and as per usual, your prasad selection looked spectacular (I almost wrote “spread”, but then decided it may be misconstrued! Eek.)

  2. Devadeva Mirel

    merci. it wasnt a bad time. missed the performances but i believe the play will be featured at the sunday feast.vaisnavi’s husand dyed his hair pink for the play.i think ekendra played but i didnt see anyone’s sides splitting open, so maybe i am wrong.c u 2 m r o. 😉

  3. Anonymous

    4 dollars for a slice of THAT cheese cake? Thats cheap, what are these people complaining about?!!

  4. Devadeva Mirel

    i, too, believe it is cheap. but people like cheeeeeeap.

  5. Anonymous

    Devotees are special so I am not going to get into the subject of cheapness among Hare Krishnas (hu hum) – I figure, that wart in our culture is small price to pay in the face of the much needed sadhu sanga a good old Sunday feast provides…That said, it is a fact that the world in general, and America in particular, is very ignorant of the actual cost of food. It was reported somewhere on the news recently that a study showed that the average tomatoes consumed by a typical family in the US provides, if converted in money value, 1/3 in nutrition of the amount of money it was required in the whole process of its production. That is, those tomatoes are worth 1/3 of the money it took to produce them. This shows how Americans are out of touch regarding the real value of food. People are willing to spend whatever in clothing, transportation, housing, entertainment, etc. but food is relegated to 7, 8 or even 10th place of priority on a list. Its a terrible cycle, really.As a sattvic food trader, I think that if you ever so gently educate your costumers on the real value of food, you would be introducing a great humanitarian and hence devotional service in your community. Anyway, your business seem established, so you can afford to keep those prices realistic. Let them open their mouths. Yum!! And their eyes as well.

  6. Devadeva Mirel

    my dear anonymous (i have a hunch who you are!!!)i do try to educate people on the cost of food. for me the sad thing about this little business i am doing is that people do some quick math in their head and decide whether or not they like the price based on raw ingredients but no one really figures anything for my time…including myself!i know there are people out there interested in quality stuff and they seem to be finding their way over to my table.the funny thing about the cheesecake is that people complain my slices are too big! of course, when i ask what slice they want, everyone goes for the biggest.doing this business has helped me a lot because i am as cheap as the next guy. it is difficult because i, like many other people, want to pay a fair price for things, but man, money sure is tight these days. so i can definitely relate to both sides.thank you, dear anonymous, for your continued comments. they are always thoughtful and provocative. and i beg you to one day write something which i can post on my blog. you are so in touch with food.

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