YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City


Yum! Literally.

In just a few short weeks – on April 10, 2014 – Somerville non-profit The Welcome Project will host its fifth annual YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City celebration at 7pm at the Armory. Oh, and hey, you can buy your tickets online. ($35 in advance, $40 at the door).

YUM is themed around some of my favorite things: food, community, and diversity.

In Somerville, these things go together like Cuppow a mason jar. I mean, really.

Diversity is at the heart of what makes our community great, and what better way to celebrate our community and our diversity than delicious food?

Food is an integral part of every culture. It tells a story – the dish your grandma used to make. It brings a community together – bread broken among friends. It shares a history, a culture, a climate.

Importantly, YUM doesn’t just celebrate diverse food – delicious though it may be. The event actively supports immigrant-owned restaurants in Somerville.

Independent, locally-owned businesses of all stripes play an important role in any thriving community – as the good folks at Somerville Local First can tell you. But local, immigrant-owned restaurants play a particularly important role.

They are gathering places, informal cultural centers. They are expressions of our many unique voices, and they are central to who we are as a city.

It’s possible that I’m biased – I serve on the board of The Welcome Project and this is my third year chairing the event committee for YUM. But I wouldn’t put so much time and energy into this work if I didn’t think it was important.

It’s no secret that the city is changing. There’s rezoning in Union, it’s an hour wait to get a table in Davis, and I can’t even keep up with the updates from Assembly Square. With more T stops on the way and housing costs already ridiculous, this is our moment to shape the future of the city.

I’m excited about the changes. I am. I’ve watched the city grow over the last decade and I look forward to what I find in the decade to come.

But even as the city changes, we know where our soul lies – and events like YUM help us remember that. We are a diverse, thriving community, and, of course…we love food.

This year, YUM will feature nine immigrant-owned restaurants – which, incidentally, are all Shape Up approved. 2014 restaurants are:

7119520401_0fdaf77bb8_zAguacate Verde, Mexican, Porter Square
Fasika, Ethiopian, East Somerville
Istanbul’lu, Turkish, Teele Square
Los Paisanos, Central American, East Somerville
Masala, Indian and Nepali, Teele Square
The Neighborhood Restaurant, Portuguese, Union Square
Sabur, Mediterranean, Teele Square
Vinny’s at Night, Italian, East Somerville
Yak and Yeti, Nepali and Indian, Ball Square

The event will also honor:
Regina Bertholdo, will receive The Welcome Project’s annual Intercultural City Award. Regina is Director of the Parent Information Center for the Somerville Public Schools and co-founded the Brazilian Women’s Group. Along with her leadership as Director of the Parent Information Center and as the Schools’ Homeless Liaison, Regina is also known throughout the community as a tireless advocate and champion for Somerville’s diverse immigrant community.

Suzanne Sankar will receive The Welcome Project Founder’s Award. Suzanne was a social worker at the Mental Health Clinic at Mystic Housing in the mid 1980s when the public housing development was integrated. After seeing first hand just how poorly new immigrants were being treated as they moved in, she helped lead the effort to create The Welcome Project. Through 23 years of service on The Welcome Project board, Suzanne broadened and deepened the work of the organization.  Suzanne is currently Professor of Practice and Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Simmons School of Social Work.

And just in case you missed the link, you can buy your tickets online.

See you there!

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