By Patricia Alvarado Nuñez | Friday, January 18, 2013
Eating History (Columbia Univ. Press, 2009)
As the series producer of Neighborhood Kitchens, learning about ingredients and techniques from talented chefs who are bringing new flavors to New England kitchens has been nothing but fascinating.
I now have a growing interest for food issues and history. Last week, I started reading Eating History: 30 Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine by culinary expert and historian Andrew F. Smith. He eloquently writes about the automated mill and how it changed food productions in our country, the enormous influence of French cuisine, and the effects of America's long history of immigration on the variety of cuisines we enjoy today.
According to Smith, three historic events changed the way America eats. The first, in 1848, was the California Gold Rush, then the ending of the Mexican-American War, and finally the European Revolutions occurring at that time. These three events brought large waves of immigrants -- mainly Chinese, Mexicans, and Germans -- and their languages, traditions, and cuisines into the United States.
By Patricia Alvarado Nuñez | Thursday, December 6, 2012
Christina's Spices (Patricia Alvarado Nuñez/WGBH)
From Dubai’s souks and Mexican mercados, to La Boquería in Barcelona and floating markets in Thailand, if you really want to learn about a place and its culture, local markets are the place to roam.
But closer to home international food markets are abundant and offer an opportunity to discover new flavors and cultures. Seeing shelves and freezers stocked with imported, unique food items and labels written in unfamiliar languages can give any visitor walking through the doors a sense of entering a far away land.
One of the most fascinating and adventurous parts of producing Neighborhood Kitchens is scouting neighborhoods before we film them. In addition to meeting interesting locals and getting a taste of their fare, we always pay a visit to ethnic food markets, which range in size from tiny mom and pop storefronts to 25,000 square foot supermarkets. Their goods have travelled the map, coming from Mexico and the Caribbean, or Europe, Africa, Asia and other far reaches of the globe. These markets continue to blossom in Massachusetts neighborhoods, thanks in part to an increasing interest in ethnic cookery, and in large measure to the growth of immigrant populations. Read More
By Patricia Alvarado Nuñez | Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Thankgiving Table (michaelwhitney/Flickr)
"There is no joy in eating alone." —The Buddha, 543 B.C.
The history of Thanksgiving is about different cultures coming together. Our national holiday commemorates the First Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrim colonists and members of the Wampanoag people in Plymouth in 1621.
On Thanksgiving Day this week, in neighborhood kitchens around the country, people will come together to prepare traditional foods of the season: roasted turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and of course pumpkin pie. But according to a published letter of Plymouth Colony leader Edward Winslow, that first meal bears little resemblance to our modern day feast. For example,food historians have shown that potatoes, a staple of today’s Thanksgiving meal, originated in South America and had not made their way into the Wampanoag or colonist diet at the time of the 1621 harvest celebration.
If you think of America as a big salad bowl, filled with many types of colorful foods, then you can see how our cultures can come together on the plate. In millions of US kitchens, the Thanksgiving menu this year will reflect a multicultural touch, such as warm arepas, fried plantains, tamales, sticky rice or pasta with freshly made tomato sauce.
If your want to add something different to your traditional Thankgiving meal, consider one of the following recipes, shared with us from some of the chefs in New England who never cook without adding flavors from around the world: Read More
By Patricia Alvarado Nuñez | Monday, November 19, 2012
(Patricia Alvarado Nuñez/WGBH)
In the last decade, the buttery and rich avocado has rocketed to superstardom. That’s no surprise, since research has demonstrated its attributes as a nutrient-dense food,offering arich mix of proteins, minerals and healthy fats.
In Latin America, avocados have always been well regarded. This subtropical fruit has been cultivated for thousands of years in Mexico and Central America. Mexicans, who seldom eat a meal without them, are the main consumers of avocados worldwide, eating an average of 20 pounds per person per year.
More and more we hear about the gluten-free diet, which eliminates a protein naturally found in wheat, rye and barley. For people suffering from Celiac disease, an autoimmune intolerance to gluten, this diet is a must. Others choose to observe a gluten-free diet to improve their overall health.
A few years ago, finding gluten-free products in a store was nearly impossible. These days it is easier to find
gluten-free pasta, bread, pizza and yes, even chocolate chip cookies! Fortunately, more restaurants, cafes and bakeries are also expanding their gluten-free offerings. Even airlines are changing their in-flight menus to offer gluten-free alternatives.
As Neighborhood Kitchens has explored New England and met several great cooks, we have learned that cuisines from all over the world – Mexican, Thai, Indian, Japanese – offer great gluten-free options. Several of the chefs we feature in season 1 of our show have recipes that rely on cornmeal, quinoa, plantains, lentils, tapioca, potatoes, and rice—all gluten-free alternatives—to create delicious dishes. Here are some of our favorites:
For Oleana chef and owner, Ana Sortun, serving up great flavors begins with excellent food. She's a firm believer in the "farm-to-table" practice, growing organic ingredients for Oleana at Siena Farms with her husband, Chris Kurth. Sortun calls the growing interest her customers have in where their food comes from, "an amazing change for good."
About Neighborhood Kitchens
Building on a 34-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 and Sundays at 6:30pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
About the Author
Patricia Alvarado Nuñez Patricia Alvarado Nuñez is an award-winning producer creating Latino and multicultural programming for WGBH and La Plaza. (She cooks, too!)
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!