By Margarita Martinez | Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Carlos Walter Rodriguez, chef at Orinoco, with Margarita (Patricia Alvarado/WGBH)
When I met chef Rodriguez at his restaraunt in Brookline Village, he told me his favorite Orinoco meal, aside from his required arepa Gringa in the morning, is the Panela-Marinated Salmon, Churrasco Adobo, the Seared Tuna and a glass of Torrontes wine or a Mojito-Cojito.
For decades waves of immigrants have come to New England, bringing with them their culture, music, and especially their food. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Massachusetts has the 8th largest immigrant population in the country, and Boston’s foreign-born community represents more than 100 different countries.
Many of Boston’s neighborhoods have experienced an increase in diversity, especially East Boston, Roslindale, Allston, Brighton, Hyde Park, and Dorchester. As a result, there are ethnic restaurants in nearly every neighborhood in Massachusetts. They offer an excellent way to taste food from different cultures and experience Massachusetts’ bounty of diversity.
Every week Neighborhood Kitchens, our new series about the exploration of culture through food, will offer a unique window into the Latin American community in New England.
By Margarita Martinez | Monday, May 6, 2013
Fields Corner in Dorchester really is the destination for Vietnamese cuisine in the greater Boston area. This neighborhood offers the widest and most concentrated selection of Vietnamese food throughout Boston, from places where Banh Mi is ordered at a counter to more formal restaurant experiences with table service. There are also Asian markets where all the ingredients for a Vietnamese meal can be found, including freshly baked baguettes, freshly caught fish, exotic fruits and vegetables, and the more esoteric banana flower fruit. I loved exploring the neighborhood with my terrific tour guide Pham Nam, the director of the community development corporation Viet-AID.
After our market visit, Nam took me to the Vietnamese American Community Center, which opened in Dorchester 11 years ago through the help of Viet-AID. It is the first Vietnamese American community center in the United States. The well-maintained facility houses classes for children and adults, including instruction in business, the Vietnamese language, ballroom dancing, and preschool. When I stopped by the community center the after-school program was in session. I was most taken by the fact that while the majority of children receiving after-school homework assistance or reading books from the center's library were of Vietnamese descent, it was still a multicultural group of children from the community. While one of Viet-AID's missions is to strengthen the Vietnamese community and preserve Vietnamese culture in the greater Boston area, another core value is to bolster the Fields Corner community as a whole by providing services and a safe space for all members of the Fields Corner community.
About Neighborhood Kitchens
Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.
Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
About the Author
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.
On the Go
In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!