A new book published by the Somerville Arts Council, Nibble, is a culinary journey through Union Square that includes recipes, local stories, photographs and a guide to shops and restaurants in the neighborhood.
Rachel Strutt, program manager at the Somerville Arts Council, said the origins of the book go back seven years, when the Arts Council received a grant to help stimulate the Union Square economy through culture.
"Food and food diversity is a real asset of Union Square," Strutt said, and the Arts Council launched programs to highlight that aspect of the neighborhood.
The idea for the book also came from things like the Nibble blog, which focuses on food and culture in Union Square, and from food tours the Arts Council conducts of the neighborhood that introduce people to the area's collection of international food shops, many of which carry hard-to-find ingredients and are owned by people from far-flung parts of the globe.
Recipes, photos and stories
The books is a glossy 132-page affair with enticing photos of diverse foods and cocktails, portraits of neighborhood chefs and shop owners and views of Union Square. It was written and compiled by a mostly volunteer group of residents.
There's a little something for everyone. For instance, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and his mother share a recipe for Tiella di Gaeta, a savory pie from a town north of Naples where Curtatone's family originally comes from.
Mark Romano, head chef at Highland Kitchen, shares his recipe for spicy coconut curried goat stew (a serious dish for anyone who's had it).
Taza Chocolate tells you how to make beignets with coffee creme Anglaise, a local bartender serves up cocktail recipes, and we learn about Manuel Borges, from The Neighborhood Restaurant, and how he makes his own wine.
That's just some of what you'll find. There are recipes from Nepal, Brazil, El Salvador, Sri Lanka and other far-off places, and they're all connected to Union Square.
Recipes include "shopping tips," telling you where to buy some of the more exotic ingredients.
Union Square is a neighborhood where "you can take a trip around the globe while staying fiercely local," said Strutt, adding the book "incorporates stories from the entire planet."
The book celebrates the diversity of Union Square, but as Strutt noted, "food is such a common denominator," it brings people together.