Stories of community, culture, & food
Stories of community, culture, & food
“Savor” is a collaborative project celebrating the intersection between culture and community through food in Glendale — a neighborhood in west Salt Lake City. Beginning with the authors' curiosity about how food justice and cultural factors impact the perception and execution of eating healthfully, a year of research resulted in the collection of fifteen recipes and contributor profiles from participants originating from 12 different countries.
The book is an account of a group of men and women who use their community kitchen not only to create meals, but also relationships. Through these stories the authors portray how food can act as a cultural anchor, an important element of identity, and a platform from which to build community.
The recipes tell fascinating tales of identity; they are the warmly-shared recollections of distant homes left by refugees and displaced persons, recipes modified by adversity and creativity, yet still so resonant with their origins you can taste it. That these stories, so rich with culture, and place, are told from a recognized ‘food desert’, expands their meaning; they now narrate a compelling and durable resistance to a food system that has made cheap, prepared, and placeless calories an increasingly dangerous norm.
The magic of these stories lies not in the individual ingredients, but in the ways the ingredients come together, weaving sensory experiences that evoke the familiar and comfortable or invite a glimpse of the new and exotic.
100% of the proceeds from book sales support future cooking projects and a community garden at the Glendale Community Learning Center.
Cilantro – the leafy part of the coriander plant – is used widely throughout the world, for both cooking and medicinal purposes. Cultures across Asia, North America, Latin America, North Africa, and West Africa use this soft herb in a variety of meals: from salsas to pho, falafel to flatbread.
Cilantro is often added toward the end of the cooking process in order to preserve its medicinal properties and to maintain its fresh, pungent flavor. In South Asian cooking, cilantro is eaten raw in dishes like chutney so that its astringent quality is maintained. In North and Latin American cooking, cilantro is also eaten raw in common dishes like salsa and ceviche.
Cilantro has an antibacterial compound called “dodecenal”, which has been effective in fighting cases of Salmonella. Due to its mild antiseptic properties, cilantro tastes “soapy” to a small portion of the population.
Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley or coriander in various parts of the world.
Almost every culture in the world utilizes some form of noodle in their cooking. The wheat noodle is used dominantly in European and American dishes. Spaghetti, couscous, and orzo are good examples. In parts of Asia and Africa, however, other flours are used instead; mung bean (glass) noodles, sweet potato noodles, tapioca noodles, buckwheat (soba) noodles, and amaranth noodles are just a few examples.
Noodles can be used as a main dish or on the side. In Asian spring rolls, for example, noodles are wrapped in rice paper with other vegetables. Noodles have also become a popular ingredient in street food all over the world.
The shape of the noodle lends itself to different spices, sauces, and tastes, which makes it a versatile ingredient in every cultural cuisine.
The shape of the noodle also plays a part in various celebrations and traditions. The yi mein egg noodle, for example, is eaten in Chinese cultures during birthday celebrations. Its long, continuous shape symbolizes longevity.
The banana family – which includes the plantain – is utilized in a myriad of fruit dishes worldwide, and its appearance in savory applications is seen globally as well. It is considered a staple carbohydrate crop in many cuisines and is often cheaper than other root vegetables.
In the Caribbean, both green bananas and plantains are considered “ground provisions” and are used as a quality source of starch in a variety of dishes. In Caribbean and African cuisines, plantains and bananas are used to make a bread-like dish called pone, much like the corn pone eaten in the Southern United States. In Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the banana is made into mofungo – fried green plantains that are mashed together with broth, garlic, pork, and seasonings. This dish likely originated from Africa, where indentured servants and slaves cooked a similar dish called fufu, which uses smashed cassavas rather than plantains.
The leaves of the banana plant are waterproof, which makes them a valuable cooking tool in many cultures around the world. In New Zealand, the leaves are used for grilling during pit cooking because they are breathable and add a slightly sweet flavor to any dish. The leaves are also used for steaming because they lock in flavor while allowing heat to release.
"It's so important to cook at home because you know what you're giving your family."
"When you have the whole family sharing food, there is more spirituality in it."
"In the Somali community, you don't invite. Everyone is welcome."
"You get to know a lot of people through eating. Food makes us together."
"In this community, we gather, we do things together, and we learn from each other."
"[Parents] used to drop their kids and go home, now they stay. They recognize that staying at the school, they learn from each other."
"Living in the colony was similar to living in the U.S. Although we were Mexican-American, we didn't eat much Mexican food."
"Sharing these different taste profiles is a way to show people the "cultura", through food."
"In Mexico, my family grows everything; they don't buy a lot of food."
"When you're growing your own food, and you share with others, that's Tonga."
"Cooking is usually a time when you gather your friends and you talk, you laugh, tell jokes, and have fun."
"We all gather together in this community space. We watch. We listen. We learn from each other."
"I cook every day. Thai food. Burmese food. My children are learning to really like it."
"My oldest son loves to cook. He won't go to sleep until he has real food - Tongan food."
"All the people in my country cook. So, I just saw how they did it, how my mother did it, and then I learned."