Let’s Eat Together: 7 Stories Celebrating Food + Our Nation of Immigrants

Women from Puebla, Mexico prepare tamales as an offering at the annual Virgin de Guadalupe celebration. • Photo by Lindsay Morris

Nothing brings people together quite like a good meal. Even disastrous meals, if we’re being honest, we tend to look back on fondly: spending hours searching for a turkey in Rome for Thanksgiving, or the time we melted the spatula into the cake batter. Hey, no judgement now, pretty sure you’re remembering one of your less successful meals right now too.

Joking aside, these are uncertain times we’re living in and it may just be more important than ever to embrace the power of food to bring people together. We’re a nation of immigrants, whether you rejoice that or try to deny it, it’s fact. Can you imagine what our foodscape would look like if we had closed the door on immigration so many years ago?  On Feb. 21, 2017, a group of food content creators will share how food traditions are born, adopted and endeared in this country on social media through the #ImmigrationIsTasty. In anticipation, we looked through archives to share some of the stories that celebrate the richness and diversity of the cuisines and cultures that make up our little piece of America.

A Dutch Immigrant’s Recipe for Cookies

Our family originates from so many places around the globe that during the holidays, there invariably comes together an amazing array of dishes on the table. England, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia and Ireland on my side mix with France, Germany and Poland on my husband’s. It is business-as-usual for our Christmas table to include beef Wellington, Yorkshire “puds,” perogies, cabbage salad, veggie soufflé and a kugel-like mash. Get the recipe.

Pupusas—the National Dish of El Salvador—On the North Fork
I never thought I would discover the national dish of El Salvador on the North Fork of Long Island. But all hail the pupusa, a delicacy now available in two small restaurants (and in Latino home kitchens) east of Riverhead. Related to the taco, the tamale, and the gordita-in that it involves the packaging of meat or beans or cheese or vegetables in a corn-meal envelope-the pupusa has its own sublime identity. And now East End gringos can savor it at either Rinconcito Hispano in Greenport or La Cascada in Southold. Read the story.

The Role of Latino Immigrants in Winemaking on the East End

People are always the most valuable asset. Photo: Estefany Molina.

The history of Long Island wine spans more than four decades. From the pioneer days of vineyard and winemaking experimentation to the establishment of a unique wine style, our region has continued to evolve. We’ve developed a world-class reputation for fine wine thanks to passionate owners, diligent growers and creative winemakers; all have played their part in the development of the district. But something is often left out of this conversation—the significant contribution of the local Latino population. Working quietly in the background, they don’t receive the praise they deserve. It’s time to shed some light onto those who help make our wine region a success. Read the story.

A French immigrant’s market on Shelter Island

Weekend patrons relax at Marie Eiffel’s Market. Photo: Lindsay Morris.

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness obviously never visited Marie Eiffel Market on Shelter Island. Right alongside the harbor on North Ferry Road, the market sells everything from handmade pastries to pizzas, specialty grocery items to artisanal French and Italian cheeses. All things that sing strongly of joie de vivre. Read the story.

A Mixed Heritage in Empanadas
Earning a clinical psychology degree may not have been the most direct way to launch an empanada business, but Luisa Masliah, a youthful 50-year-old Springs resident, is happiest when her agile hands are dancing in dough.

Growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay, the youngest of four, Masliah, who goes by Luchi, helped her mother prep meals for their extended family. “With 10 or more at the table, every meal was a production,” she says. “I remember a tower of chicken Milanese and the kids, assembly-line-style, flouring, dipping and breading.” Read the story.

Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Southampton

Women from Puebla, Mexico prepare tamales as an offering at the annual Virgin de Guadalupe celebration. Photo: Lindsay Morris

Twenty women from Puebla, Mexico took turns preparing 800 tamales in a modest Southampton house on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which celebrates the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary to an indigenous man, Juan Diego, on Tepeyac Hill in 1531. Read the story.
The Pita House
Joff Sahin muses over a faded map of Turkey as he relaxes at a table in his restaurant, the Pita House, waiting for the evening rush. Here is the great city of Istanbul, straddling Europe and Asia; to the west, Greece. South is Syria and the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea is to the north. Read the story.