By Tatiana Kombo
As part of the Somerville Arts Council’s Arts Union Project, the book Nibble: Exploring Food, Art & Culture in Union Square—and Beyond, tells the culinary story of Union Square.
As Rachel Strutt, program manager at the Somerville Arts Council, puts it, the book aims to “cultivate and celebrate the Square’s food landscape.”
Nibble successfully captures the dynamic vibe of Union Square, which is home to dozens of international markets, specializing in edible goods from all corners of the world. Readers are reminded that Somerville is an interesting, artsy and diverse area, with a considerable global flavor.
By introducing people to Union Square’s culinary landscape and “diverse gastronomic offerings, whether its anticuchos (beef hearts) at Machu Picchu or squid ink pasta at Capone’s market,” Nibble also serves the purpose of promoting food tourism. With over 25 recipes and backstories to each dish, Nibble eulogizes Somerville’s multiculturalism in 132 pages. Nibble reminds readers of the oftentimes forgotten cultural and creative processes that shape delectable dishes, demonstrating how food can be a “great common denominator” that allows people of various cultural backgrounds to find common ground.
As Rachel Strutt notes, “the stories are not just about food, but about the inextricable connection between food and culture. Folks will learn, for example, how Salvadorans cook with flowers, like flor de izote and loroco blossoms, and how Nepalis use a spice called timur, which numbs your tongue slightly.”
As an initiative designed to boost local “cultural economic development,” the Arts Union Project will use any profit generated by the book “towards public arts programming in Somerville.”
Complete with photographs, recipes and various personal accounts, Nibble is an informative and visually seductive work. Copies of it are available at the Swirl and Slice market, and at the Union Square Farmers Market.