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2018 Lecture Series: Food History & Immigration in Our Region

Budding food historian Ellot Merker presented a lecture about food history and immigration in our region and how it has influenced our eating habits and the foods themselves.

Immigration is a topic much in the news lately and Greenbelt’s population has become increasingly diverse over the course of its 80 years. With these thoughts in mind, we invited budding food historian Elliot Merker to join us for a talk about food history and the ongoing influence that immigration has had on food in this country. Merker’s talk was wide-ranging and included the concept of an immigrant food cycle. Frequently, once an immigrant community has been established, grocery stores open to serve that community, then restaurants follow. Eventually, fusion with more traditional American cuisine takes place, and the final phase is when the food is assimilated into the mainstream.

We recently came across this vintage magazine advertisement for Heinz Cooked Spaghetti. It illustrates how even though the traditionally Italian dish had begun to move into the mainstream by 1939 when the ad was produced, much of the copy is encouraging housewives to give it a try for dinner.

We had quite a spread from local Greenbelt restaurants! Chicken quesadillas and plantains from Pollo Cabana; spinach, chin chins and jollof rice from Jodeem African Cuisine; egg rolls from Beijing of Greenbelt, and hummus and pita from Cedars of Lebanon.

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