Fairfield County is full of trailblazing women, particularly in the culinary world. Which is why, with 2018 being proclaimed the Year of the Woman, we felt compelled to honor the pioneers among us.
Our new series, “It’s A Woman’s World’ is devoted to Fairfield County female influencers who’ve forged their own paths, often in food-related fields long dominated by men.
Whether farming the land, bringing healthy food to the masses, feeding an entrepreneurial spirit or injecting feminism with food, these groundbreaking ladies have set a new definition of women’s work, creating new paths and setting examples for those who follow.
How'd they do it? Read on. This week, our focus turns to Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, Owners of Bloodroot feminist restaurant. Have a suggestion on someone you’d like to see featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, Owners, Bloodroot
Why They’re Pioneers: Ardent feminists, the two – both heavily involved with the National Organization for Women (NOW) – wanted to create a place that spoke to them. Back in the 70s, there were feminist bookstores but no real “women’s center,” according to 83-year-old Miriam. And so, because she liked to cooked, she and Furie, who became friends from their days at NOW, decided to open a feminist restaurant. Someone mentioned that to be a feminist restaurant they should serve vegetarian food and so, even though Miriam wasn’t a vegetarian at the time – she’s now vegan –they stuck to that mission. That was 41 years ago and the place is still going strong, catering to folks with homemade dishes including the ever-popular Jamaican Jerk and Thai chicken, not to mention pies served with fruits plucked from their garden.
There’s no one specific “chef” – the women prefer the word “cook” and there are different cooks in the kitchen at any given time, whipping up Miriam’s recipes which she’s constantly experimenting with.
In what was revolutionary at the time, Bloodroot has no wait staff -- diners pick up their food directly from the kitchen and clear their own plates and silverware. Similarly, there’s no tipping or cash register.
The place is so unique – basically like a cozy dining room built around conversation and old-fashioned peasant food (albeit with a sprinkling of political posters) – that it draws folks from all over, often as far as hours away.
“We have a different relationship with our customers than other restaurants,” explains Miriam. “They’ve become our friends.”
Miriam is also quick to point out that despite their political bent, the restaurant is welcoming to people of every persuasion and palate. “Some people come for the feminism,” she says. “While others simply come because we have great homemade bread and soup.”
On Being A Woman In A “Man’s World:” “We’re not in that world so it’s fine,” says Miriam. She admits that when they opened in 1977, there were salesmen that would ask them where their husbands were, but mostly they’ve done as they’ve pleased – and been successful.
On What’s Next: A new cookbook – their seventh -- filled with new recipes; Miriam is big on seasonality and local ingredients. And always, a call to action. Their cookbook, as per the others, also contains an introduction about their philosophies and politics and has favorite quotes sprinkled throughout. Says Miriam: “We’ve always been political.”
It's A Woman's World Archive: