Cuisine is the heart and soul of a culture. That culture is transplanted by immigrants when they come to America and call New York City home. The Big Apple is truly a melting pot of culture for many reasons, perhaps the biggest of them being the cuisine brought over by immigrants. One doesn’t have to look far to see how immigrant cuisine has influenced and affected our palates, from the enjoyment we find from eating at small bodegas to indulging our senses at fine restaurants.
Food sharing is the most basic social interaction. No matter the culture or ethnicity, sharing a meal with a friend or guest is the most welcoming gesture one can offer. It has the ability to transcend language, encourage dialogue and promote not only tolerance, but understanding and cultural exchange as well.
This multi-perspective art installation will explore the food that immigrants stored and ate, both past and present. The
The window display at the Tenement Musuem will be dressed like a pantry similar to the ones found in the New York tenements long ago. Inside will be materials and ingredients of cuisines representing multiple cultures to show how this dwelling was once inhabited by nearly 7,000 people over the last 200 years. Shelves will be built to hold canned food, dry goods, cooking ware, and utensils. One will find a wide range of culinary fodder: lentils next to canned chinese mushrooms, jasmine rice packages mixed with short grain rice, claypots mixed with cast iron pans. The pantry will be built in different grids, with various architectural details. Some will have antique wallpaper backing, while some will be hollow. It will also be decorated by dollies, mimicking old fashioned decor enjoyed by tenants of a bygone era.
The participants will also be working on a performance project where they will try to preserve a memory by photographing a treasured memento with a polaroid camera, then preserving it in a jar filled with preserving agents like oil, sugar and vinegar solution. The nature of polariod is to transform and processes continue: chemical reactions, fermentations, color changes and decay, Everything is in a state of change. Finally, memory is lost. The project also references the popularity of Lower East Side pickle industry and how humans have always preserved food for centuries.
Participants bring in their memento to be photograph in the Museum.
Top Left: I took a handmade memento that one of my friend made for me. I love it because it reminds me of who am I and where I came from. I don't want to forget it, but at the same time when you go to a new country you have to forget and learn new things and start again. You are not the same person that you were back home. - Ruth
Top Right: These are traditional costume from my family back in Algeria - Benny
Middle Left: This ring is a memory of my sister Julietta, she died in 1992. - Mara
Middle Right: This is an Aztec calendar. Long ago my ancestors counted the days and years with it. - Martha
Bottom Right: This is my memento my mom sent to me for me to drink coffee in America with Mexican flavor. - Hilda
Bottom Left: These are photograph of my family and home. - Rosa
Open call to collect memento from all over the world to be pickled.
Left: This picture is important to me because it's my wedding in the church 22 years ago.
Right: Machete, I use this for many years, working in the field with my father. - Emiliano Corona
Left: This is a photo of my grandmother's tea cozy. I'm not sure where she got it from originally but she came to the US as a young woman from Scarborough England. - Deborah Davis
Right: I think I do not have any special or precious "thing" that important for me while I was in Malaysia or now in New Zealand. What I have is memory from the past, it is the "motor" to link me to Malaysia and keep me continue to search the world. For now, my only precious thing are my son Yiping and my husband. I prefer "live thing" than "dead thing" like a ring and etc. I always tell myself, don't look back but appreciate opportunities/moments that I have now. - Lee Ching Chong
Left: Every kid in Germany grows up with Lego. This particular piece is very old. I think I got it from my mother, so it's probably from the early 50ties. I remember the piece got easily stuck when combining it with other Lego pieces, probably because of its age. The word Würstchen is the diminutive form from Wurst for sausage, obviously a very German food product, which I happen to like a lot. Though Würstchen is as common as Wurst (simply a smaller Wurst), it can also be used as a pejorative. It means "squirt" or "linnet." - Christoph Mayer
Right: Image info: Notre Dame Convent (Malacca, Malaysia) Outstanding Students 1980. Significance: Proud to be one of the outstanding students. Wonderful memories. - Sand T
Left: My Mom gave me when I left China as a blessing of safety. I never take it down since then. - Ruijun Shen
Right: I brought Kampung Boy by Lat with me because it serves as potent reminders of not forgetting ones roots and a simpler life back home. - Sam Tan
Left: Agnes Hajek's book belonged to my great-grandmother, born Agnes Maly, who was of Bohemian heritage. It is an address book, listing names and addresses of people who were important to her. Most of the addresses are in Queens, where she lived, but some were in other parts of the US or in Czechoslovakia. - Sarah Clark
Right: The O'Donovan tile is from the cottage in Ireland where my husband Mike's grandfather was born. The remains of the house (minus thatched roof) still stand in Tooreen, Kilcrohane, County Cork, Ireland. We visited last August and met family members who still live in the town. - Sarah Clark
Left: I didn't bring this particular wallet picture with me from the beginning of my study in the US. However, my family pictures have been my big treasure in my life in the US. It has been 11 years that I gain power and energy from the pictures. I always think about "What am I doing here? Why am I here? Should I be here or go back home?" I ask myself. To endure tiredness and painful days, I needed more than my own self. I needed something to depend on. Whenever I look at the picture, my family became my spiritual strength. It gives energy to do whatever I have to do that day and it enable me to endure the pain. Isn't this a big treasure for me not for anyone else? - Soyeon Park
Right: My Memento is a scarf from India. This scarf originally belonged to my mother. I chose this scarf as my memento because it reminds me of home, my mother, and also my grandmother, because she is always wearing scarves. - Shikha Nandkeolyar
Left: This vintage sugar container that was passed on to me from my maternal grandmother. Whenever we went to visit her in England she would have a sugar-dusted jam-filled sponge cake waiting for us. Although I never witnessed her making the cake, everytime I see this jar I can picture her opening it up to add the final touch to her famous sponge cake.
- Christina Johnston
Right: I really miss my sister’s cats and the photograph I brought of them is one of my treasured things from New York. I keep it on my desk and look at it often. - Kari Conte
Left: One is my mother's father's yellow coffee pot. I've brought it with me because it is truly a handed-down domestic item that my grandfather used daily, but also because the design is beautiful and a collector's item today. - Malin Abrahamsson
Right: The second image is of my mother's mother's hand-woven kitchen towels. They've followed me to NY for similar reasons as my grandfather's coffee pot; she not only hand made these towels but she also used them in her home and then passed them on to my mother. I use them in my home myself because they're beautiful and also because my grand mother's initials are the same as both my mother's and my own; MA. - Malin Abrahamsson
Left: A birthday necklace was given by my class in 1991. (we have a tradition of giving piece of gold for a birthday present for each member of the 20-student class--I went to girls school). The last time I wore it was during the highschool class reunion in 2005. - Fely Muliadi
Right: An almost 20years-old coin pocket from my mother. I used it to keep Indonesian coins while I was in the States, and now I have it for U.S. coins in Jakarta. - Fely Muliadi
Left: The house where I lived for the first five years of my life on the side of a mountain overlooking the city. I remember living in luxury. - Milenka Berengolc
Left: What you see on the photo is my 'Dirndl'. That is the traditional Bavarian (South German State I am from) dress for women. I took it to New York, Hawaii and Korea with me. I never wore it in any of these places but it is nice to have it with me. - Juliane Eirich
Right: My grandma was a self taught artist, born in China and emigrated to Malaysia when she was 10 years old. This projector was one of her many medium used to preserve our childhood memories.. she taught me I can be anything I want if I have the will. - Penny Yuen
Left: Three passports, two expired and one valid, the only remaining belongings from my homeland. Vintage Japanese silk, a gift from my friend, makes me reminisce about my country once was and long gone now, like myself." - Hiroshi Kumagai
Right: its a picture of my architectural tools. One is to brush off the dust and the other is to measure. they are both very portable and I have been carrying these two items from places to places I explored. They are in a way my mojo. Lucky charm for my architectural work. - Jee Hoon Stark
Left and Right: The flag and the old silver coin ( as know in venezuela as 'fuerte') are very important to me because was a present before i came to here from my best friend (el chile) who pass away one year ago. He give this to me to remember always my place, my people and my country. They are also a memory of Venezuela before Chavez (the actual president) who change the flag put in one more start. And in January he is also changing the money system and design. - Mateo Pintó
Left: The kimono I am wearing in these photos is actually not actually brought by me but my mom keeps sending from Japan. I have more than handful kimonos stored in my closet for years. I try wearing them for special occasions. I known that my mom wants me to remember my root by wearing these beautiful outfits. This pink one is one of my favorites and these were taken after attending my friends' wedding in spring 2005. - Nao Onda
Right: I studied ballet as a child but stopped taking classes when preparing for college. After graduation, I started dancing again, but I've never used these pointe shoes because I'm not training intensively like I was before. - Dianne Chia
Morning cake by Belkacem Habbas.
Armenian Dolma by Mara Matsakyan.
Shrimp Ceviche by Rosa Lucero.
Enchilada Verdes by Martha Rodriguez.
Spanish Omelet by Ruth Chico González.
Queso de Leche by Sarah Martinez.
Champurrado by Hilda Tellez.
Installation on the window of Tenenment Museum.
Recipe rack card was available on the stoop of Tenement Museum for the public to take. Recipe are provided by the participants. On the reverse side of the card is a call to the visitor of the Museum for more memento to be pickles.
My new Memento