Boise’s Multicultural Global Experience
By Jessica McAnally, Photos by Pete Grady
A bustling public market with offerings from around the world is now open in the Treasure Valley. At the Boise International Market, customers can find handmade products from a diverse selection of countries, locally grown produce and meat, unique clothing, and foods from global cultures. Thanks to the dedication of Lori Porreca along with her partner, Miguel Gaddi, a Boise Bench area strip mall has been renovated to become a business incubator and multicultural marketplace.
From it’s preliminary opening to present, the Boise International Market has grown exponentially and continues to bring in new vendors. From a Bhutanese grocery to Ethiopian cuisine, the variety of shops and restaurants is exceptional. “The Boise International Market is about making the invisible visible,” said Porreca. “The Treasure Valley is the home to people from countries and cultures from around the world, but much of this diversity and energy remains hidden.”
With the goal of bringing this diversity and energy to light, Boise International Market celebrates the various cultures in the community by providing a place for them to flourish. The businesses that have been with the market since it opened its doors have seen the benefit of this environment. These businesses, most of which are family owned, have stories that are just as unique as their fare.
Kibrom Milash and Tirhas Hailu are a husband/wife team who own Kibrom’s Ethiopian & Eritrean Restaurant. The meals are made up of different stews and vegetables eaten with pieces of injera, the flatbread it is served on which is made from teff, a gluten free grain. “Boise can’t seem to get enough of Ethiopian food,” said Porreca. “It has grown very popular since more people are experiencing gluten intolerance and celiac disease.”
With their Colombian food offerings, El Cafetal’s owners, Triny Silva and Adriana Scarpetta, serve dishes that celebrate every region of Colombia. The menu contains some of the country’s most popular dishes, which are just as vibrant and varied as the country itself. Both Silva and Scarpetta are from Cali, a large city in western Colombia.
The Goodness Land, owned by Salam Bunyan, is a restaurant specializing in Arabic cuisine. Bunyan has been in business in Boise for 14 years and still strives to offer the most authentic and delicious foods from his native Iraq as well as its surrounding countries. “A specialty is Iraqi home food,” said Porreca. “These dishes are not traditionally found in restaurants.” There is, however, a traditional seating area available, with cushions on the floor and low tables.
Kahve Coffee provides a completely different take on the coffee experience. Owned by Nawid Mohammad Mousa, Kahve’s brings the most authentic, fresh, and high quality coffee and tea from around the world to Boise. They offer a wide selection of cultural, custom and region-based coffees and teas such as Cuban, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek, Irish, Lebanese, Turkish, and more, served in their traditional style.
Loba African Fashion and Fresh Produce’s owners Abdulwahabu ‘Musa’ Mukomwa and Kutukira Mberwa operate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Customers can buy a share of their CSA and pick-up a weekly basket of fresh seasonal produce at the Boise International Market. They also offer handmade clothing, fabrics, shoes and accessories from eastern and western Africa.
Each business’ unique offerings are matched with equally unique stories and beginnings. They can only be fully experienced by visiting these restaurants and shops, interacting with the entrepreneurs who are sharing their talents and expertise. The Boise International Market is located at 5823 West Franklin Road in Boise and is open Sunday through Friday 11-8 and Saturday 8-8. Find them online at www.BoiseInternationalMarket.com.