“When people migrate to a spot the first thing they want to remember from back home is the food,” says Cooking in America host Sheldon Simeon. In this episode of the series, Simeon is visiting Sama Uyghur Cuisine in Union City, an Uyghur restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Uyghur people are a Muslim ethnic minority in China, and their cuisine pulls heavily from both Chinese influence and Muslim tradition. But the Uyghur aren’t exactly a minority, making up about 30 million people who mostly reside in the northwestern part of China. “Still a lot of people don’t know us,” says owner Pattar Dilmurat. “I want to introduce my culture to other people and [food] is the best way.”
One of the smallest populations of Uyghur people can be found in the Bay Area, with about 200 to 300 people — many who moved to study in the 1980s and 1990s. “it’s difficult to live without your community here,” admits Dilmurat. “But the good thing is when we opened the restaurant they keep coming; thank god every day I can see my people here.”