If you don’t have anyone to open your heart up to this Valentine’s Day—fear not. Open up your appetite instead at Porter Square Books for a talk and tastings by the authors of Nibble—a book produced by The Somerville Arts Council.
Nibble, which hit shelves this past July and is currently the best selling non-fiction book at the store, contains 130 luscious pages of food and drink recipes by Union Square restaurant owners, photography and illustrations centered on food and culture, and personal stories and interviews told by locals.
Nibble is unique in the sense that it was a community effort—no single person is the author.
Rather, the book was composed by over 50 different community members including local writers, cooks, photographers, artists, mixologists and recipe testers. The collaborative effort of this book reflects the book’s sociology; folks at the art council saw the book as an opportunity for people not just to observe or consume culture, but to be active participants in that process.
The Arts Council focused on Union Square because they saw it as a neighborhood that balances both the local and the global. “Eating your way through Union Square is like taking a vicarious spin around the globe, while remaining fiercely local,” write the authors.
It is this blend between quality local, American grub and international flare that brings Union Square alive. It is also what brought the book alive. The book consists of recipes and descriptions of the many different local coffee shops, cafes and bars as well as from the vast amount of international restaurants in the area. Readers digest food cultures from Italy, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, The U.S. and more in one swoop while reading this book.
Arts Council Manager Rachel Strutt comments that cultural diversity was both a motivation for the book and something that evolved from it. She and the authors see food as a “great common denominator” and a positive means of reaching the international community. Part of the books contents consists of food stories told by locals involved in Intercambio- a program managed by the arts council that allows English speaking Americans who want to learn foreign languages to converse with immigrants learning English.
The Intercambio stories in the book consist of tails about food as close by as the Union Square sidewalk and as far as a farm in Brazil. Local artist Meagan O’Brien paired the Intercambio stories with portraits of the story storytellers. “A portrait for a story” was the means of exchange.
The Valentine’s Day book talk will consist of food sampling from many of the different recipes and restaurants covered in the book, a talk by members of the Somerville arts council about the book’s contents, story-telling by Intercambio members and a special guest appearance by local mixologist Brother Cleve. Cleve—a local guy whose mixing talents include not only drinks but music (he’s a local DJ/musician) created four unique drinks for Nibble. His concoctions can be sampled at the book talk or you can catch them at your leisure at The Independent—a local’s favorite pub in Union Square.
PORTER SQUARE BOOKS
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