- 2020 INDIES Finalist
- Finalist, Cooking (Adult Nonfiction)
Six years ago, John Wang and Storm Garner pooled their talents to start the terrifically popular Queens Night Market. The venue brings together food vendors from diverse culinary traditions on summer Saturday nights. The World Eats Here collects recipes, images, and personal stories from fifty of these chefs representing forty countries, including Mauritius to Tibet.
Heirloom and street food recipes are the tempting stars of this cookbook. They reflect Wang and Garner’s commitment to celebrating New York’s ethnic diversity. At the market, their prices cap at $6, making them affordable for thousands of weekly visitors. Some dishes are familiar, like biscotti and dosas, but other foods, including Romanian Chimney Cakes, Antiguan Seafood Soup, and Tea Leaf Salad from Myanmar, are more surprising. The book’s suggestions for sourcing unusual ingredients and potential substitutions, along with its photographs and lively illustrations, are valuable aids for home cooks.
As Wang and Garner note, vendors sell foods “with special relevance to their personal background and cultural heritage.” Her extended recipe introductions and interviews are resonant with poignant stories about the many challenges each chef has faced in establishing their new lives and businesses; they include interesting takes on American culture. Common themes emerge: some chefs immigrated to escape economic or political struggles, others came for an education, and others arrived to reunite with family members. Their individual stories and food memories season the recipes with even more flavor and meaning, and Garner is sensitive in summarizing their stories while adding plenty of direct quotes.
Kosovo Albanian chef Alida Malushi, whose recipe for Cevapi (grilled meat patties) is alluring, is thoughtful in summing up why this book, and the market itself, is so inviting: “Because all people in the world are the same, except for three things that are unique and make them different: It’s language, food, and music.”
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