The Language of Food Conference at Cornell University: My presentation on Halal Eating and Eid Celebrations

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Ithaca, NY to present a paper on halal eating and ‘Eid celebrations at the Language of Food conference at Cornell University. It was a memorable experience in a beautiful location that I am still savoring because I just couldn’t believe that I was actually there for this purpose.

hills of Ithaca in background

Have you ever been to Ithaca?  It’s been on my list of places to visit because the photos and description of the place reminds me a lot of the small town of Athens, Ohio where I went to college. With the rolling hills, picturesque views and gorgeous European architecture, it did remind me a lot of the Ohio University campus I love so much.

Cornell University from a conference rom

This was the view from the conference room where the panel took place. Such a clear day…

Cornell University campus, Ithaca, NY

Same building, just a wider view.

Language of Food and my paper on 'Eid Celebrations

My paper was a 15-page research into the way Muslims in America are eating halal and how our ‘Eid tables are evolving in flavor profile and the types of products we’re using, the rise of the availability of quality halal ingredients and brands that are catering to our growing multi-ethnic community.  It was just as interesting to research as it was to compile and present to an audience who seemed engaged enough in the topic to ask questions pertaining to several of the points I mentioned, especially when I addressed the growing Latino Muslim community (and fusion foods we’re eating).

panel of speakers at the language of food conference

I really was enjoying myself there, but listening intently to the overview of the program of speakers. So serious, right?

cornell sign

After our panel discussion was over, I was able to come down from all of my preparations and simply relax by touring the beautiful campus and enjoying some of the local eateries.

beautiful architecture at cornell university

The clock tower in the middle of campus.

gorgeous towers at cornell university

There are several beautiful towers, actually.

door to a lunch hall on cornell university campus

The above photo is the door to the entrance of a dining hall, which reminded me so much of the settings in the Harry Potter books (though I’ve not read them, I certainly have seen the setting in pop culture items everywhere).  Next to the door is a flag that was situated in front of the Dietetic Association in another area of campus. Cornell is known for its various departments dedicated to nutrition, health research and dietetics.

harry potter fixtures at cornell university

Above is a medieval lighting fixture in one of the most beautiful dining halls I’ve ever seen, Risley Dining Hall (and I’ve seen quite a few in my day). Then, after walking around to take in all the scenery, feel the pulse of the young and energetic college campus (I just love college towns), we were hungry and scoped out something healthy.

full plate at aladdin's ithaca

Without any halal restaurants nearby (that we knew of) we scoped out some healthy vegetarian food and found Aladdin’s, where they have a trademark dish called Melanzagna (a sort of eggplant lasagna), and we could eat outdoors. The Italian in me found this the perfect comfort food while traveling.

Melanzagna at Alladin's

Delicious and light and completely vegetarian. Eating outside was a nice treat, too, especially since it began to rain shortly after we were finished…

That’s not it for my trip to Ithaca. I still have to tell you about my trip to the Moosewood Restaurant, which is one of the leading vegetarian restaurants in the U.S.  Stay posted for that…


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  1. I had a friend who used to live there, doing their PHD. She did a lot of bake sales for fundraising for the local masjid. I didn’t know Ithaca was this beautiful. I am so happy you had a chance to talk about the beautiful halal culture. I am so proud of you , you go girl!!!


  2. I was teaching at the time during the craze of all the books, but I did see one of the movies just to figure out what the kids (and adults) were so over the moon about 🙂

  3. Looks like you had a great time. I actually went to Cornell for my undergraduate degree. You really brought back a lot of fond memories … thanks Yvonne! BTW, if you have a chance I would definitely recommend going in the summer and checking out the Cornell Plantations. It’s a very beautiful and tranquil nature preserve, with ponds, rolling hills, a collection of rare plants, along with an herb garden (something more up your alley). Cornell also makes it’s own ice cream, unfortunately their dairy is being renovated and won’t reopen until 2013. Thanks again for sharing!

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