During this period of self-quarantine, you may be looking for new recipes to stay motivated and creative in the kitchen.
For inspiration, the official Queens Night Market cookbook, “The World Eats Here,” offers 88 vibrant and diverse recipes directly from Queens Night Market’s vendor chefs representing cuisines from over 40 countries.
“The World Eats Here” is co-authored by John Wang, founder of the Queens Night Market, and his wife, Storm Garner, a filmmaker and oral historian. Garner adapted the vendor’s stories in the book from her long-term interviews with them.
After nearly two years in the making, the cookbook will be available for sale on May 12. Wang is hoping customers will consider ordering a copy of the book from their local bookstore via delivery or curbside pickup.
“I hope the book will keep the Queens Night Market connected to the community until we can see everyone again, while also continuing to celebrate the vendors who really make the event what it is,” Wang said.
In most cases, the recipes in the book are being documented for the first time. The dishes might represent family traditions, cherished personal memories, tributes to parents or grandparents, special occasions or cultural staples.
Each recipe is paired with a portrait and a personal narrative adapted from an oral history interview with the recipe’s creator, or sometimes the chef’s spouse or child who started the business to showcase a family member’s talent, painting a multidimensional collective portrait of small family-run food businesses in Queens today.
The stories not only provide important context for the recipes, but they are poignant, funny, frustrating, heartwarming and illuminating, and could easily stand on their own.
With its range of cuisine and rich personal histories, “The World Eats Here” makes the case that food has the power to bridge cultural barriers and bring us all closer together. Designed to be as fun and accessible as the Queens Night Market itself, the cookbook features vibrant on-location photography by New York Times photographer, John Taggart, and colorful illustrations by Beth Bugler.
The Queens Night Market Vendor Stories Oral History Project, which Garner started in her Columbia University Oral History MA program in 2018, will ultimately be archived and made publicly accessible online for educational purposes by the Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky.
Garner is now conducting a second round of interviews with the vendors remotely, to document their experiences in the current COVID-19 crisis, and looks forward to contributing some of these stories to the Queens Memory COVID-19 Project to archive with the Queens Public Library.
“When I embarked upon this oral history project, I was looking to document the incredible diversity of lived experiences that make up this wonderful local community of enterprising food lovers with family ties all over the world,” Garner said. “Now, in an awful twist of fate, I’m recording the fear, the frustration, the resilience, and the ingenuity of the vendors as they deal with the effects of this pandemic. This is a really rough time to be a small business owner in New York City.”