Media & Reviews
Meet the Women Who've Served Up 40 Years of Feminist Food — But Can Their Restaurant Survive?
by Jacqueline Raposo - JUN 11, 2019
In the late 1960s, Selma Miriam attended the party of a well-known art teacher. The man talked on about how teachers could help stop racism and why he thought that was such a good thing. "Then, he started telling Polish jokes," Miriam remembers, eyebrows arching in wry disbelief. "I didn't say anything. I never invited him to my house, but I know he didn't know why. And I thought, I'm never going to let that happen again."
Her restaurant, Bloodroot, put that promise into action.
Film Review: ‘Bloodroot’
An affectionate portrait of both a long-running feminist restaurant and bookstore and its founders.
Directed by Douglas Tirola
Douglas Tirola’s latest documentary premiered at the 2019 San Fransisco Film Festival and traces the evolution of feminism through the lives of two exceptional women, Noel and Selma, who came of age in the ’50s when women were relegated to the roles of wives and mothers.
During the height of the women’s movement, Noel, a former teen model and Playboy bunny, meets and falls in love with Selma, a tough, outspoken radical feminist. Both women choose to leave their comfortable, yet unsatisfying marriages and children to come out as lesbians. The two share a love of cooking and gardening and, in the ’70s, open Bloodroot, the first vegetarian collective restaurant and bookstore in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Four decades is a long time for any restaurant or bookstore to endure, and Bloodroot, which is both, is filled with history: vintage photographs, old movie posters and handwritten notes from fans, including the writers Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich.
But the feminist enterprise — housed in a converted machine shop by the water, with gnarled pear trees and epazote growing wild out back — is no museum.
As Bloodroot celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, new fiction and zines pepper the shelves, and the vegetarian menu is alive and shifting, driven by its owners’ love for food and their joyful experimentation in the kitchen.
BRIDGEPORT — At first, the most commonly asked question was, “How do I get there?”
Go down Fairfield Avenue, turn left on Ellsworth Street, left onto Prescott Street, turn right on Harbor Avenue and then turn left onto Ferris Street, the staff at Bloodroot would say.
“We spent a lot of time doing that,” said co-owner Selma Miriam.
But despite being tucked away in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood, the feminist vegetarian restaurant and bookstore has managed to develop a loyal following and welcome many new visitors since it opened 40 years ago in a former machine shop by the water.
Dan Woog's Blog Post March 15, 2017
In January, hundreds of local women protested the new president. Earlier this month, some skipped work to demonstrate the impact of "A Day Without a Woman."
If they wanted a place to organize, strategize — and eat a delicious, healthful meal — they could have headed to Bloodroot.
For 40 years, the Bridgeport restaurant/bookstore has been a feminist hangout and outpost. It was there at the start of the women's movement. It nurtured the hearts, minds and stomachs of generations of activists.
It's still there. But how many people know of Bloodroot's Westport roots?
While the cultural definition of feminism has changed considerably since the 70s, the ethos of Bloodroot Restaurant and Feminist Bookstore has not.
Back in the 70s, when women wanted to have their consciousness raised, they met with a women's group. These communities provided the safety and comfort necessary for frank discussion of gender politics and liberation.
But after years of attending such groups, Selma Miriam wanted to take the money she'd saved from her landscape design business and start her own women's center. A bookstore seemed a clear model, but she loved cooking and wanted to add a restaurant. That was how she ended up opening Bloodroot Restaurant and Feminist Bookstore in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1977.