Local food and book lovers united Saturday at the Cross Street Senior Center to celebrate the launch of a new cookbook and cultural guide.
"Savoring East Somerville: A Taste-Based Guide to the Neighborhood" introduces the residents and businesses of East Somerville through their favorite recipes. The celebration included a food tasting, photography exhibit, and live mariachi band.
Rebecca Novak, a project assistant for East Somerville Main Streets, created the concept and took part in gathering the recipes.
"I was the organizer for the whole project. We call me the cookbook coordinator, but it was a team effort to get recipes," Novak said. "The goal was to create a layered, holistic picture of the neighborhood by capturing the faces behind the business, and by the food that they eat and love."
The book takes readers on a journey down East Broadway, and shares the stories and secret recipes of Italian mothers, Salvadorian tailors, and Brazilian butchers, bakers, and dressmakers.
Marco, from Tony's Buthcher Shop, contributed his wife's Feijoada recipe. The hardy Brazilian black bean stew contains seven types of meat. Amanda Hathaway, submitted her family recipe for delicious cream puffs.
Carrie Dancy, executive director of East Somerville Main Streets, said, "This was a collaborative process. I was involved in developing the cookbook and did many of the Spanish interviews."
In order to provide a culturally representative view of the neighborhood, interviews with participants were conducted in their native language. "It's interesting to learn about the differences in what we eat. People still go to specialty stores when so many different types of food can be found right here in our own neighborhood," Dancey said.
A nine-member mariachi ensemble played at the cookbook's launch party while attendants sampled creations from the book. Crowd favorites included ricotta cheesecake, chocolate oatmeal cookies, and Horchata, a sweet drink made with crushed Morro seeds, nutmeg, coriander, allspice, and cinnamon. Novak said, "It's nice to see people get involved with this project, and to see the impact that it's had."