The Culinary Traditions of Mainland Europe’s Only Indigenous People

The road into Huuva Hideaway narrows the closer you get to Liehittäjä—a village just south of the Arctic Circle populated almost exclusively by 22 relatives of the Huuva family. Liehittäjä is deep into Sápmi country—the cultural home of what many consi…

The road into Huuva Hideaway narrows the closer you get to Liehittäjä—a village just south of the Arctic Circle populated almost exclusively by 22 relatives of the Huuva family. Liehittäjä is deep into Sápmi country—the cultural home of what many consider to be mainland Europe’s only indigenous people, the Sámi. Tragically, the narrative of modern Sámi history mirrors that of other indigenous peoples in the Americas and Oceania.

Although never the victims of a physical genocide, many Sámi do consider themselves the victims of a cultural genocide perpetrated by the nation states they suddenly found their homes in—namely Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Similar to indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada, Sámi were forcibly sent to boarding schools and discouraged from speaking their language or practicing their religion. Racial scientists would force Sámi children to undress for photographs and measure different parts of their body for “research.” Historically nomadic, many Sámi were also forced to quit reindeer herding and live in permanent settlements.

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This Bread Is Beloved in Paris—& a Relic of Jewish History

You don’t hear much about the pletzel these days. On one hand, it’s an Ashkenazi Jewish flatbread covered with raw onions and poppy seeds. On the other hand, it’s a neighborhood in Paris.

The name comes from the Yiddish for “little square,” as in a li…

You don't hear much about the pletzel these days. On one hand, it’s an Ashkenazi Jewish flatbread covered with raw onions and poppy seeds. On the other hand, it’s a neighborhood in Paris.

The name comes from the Yiddish for "little square," as in a little area within a city. (Technically, the Yiddish spelling of the neighborhood is “פּלעצל,” which transliterates to “pletzl.” The flatbread, on the other hand, is more commonly spelled “pletzel.”) The Pletzl in Paris sits in the Marais neighborhood of the Fourth Arrondissement. A nondescript plaque on the corner of Rue des Rosiers and the Rue Ferdinand Duval tells the story of Ashkenazi Jews rushing to Paris in the late 19th century, fleeing persecution primarily from pogroms throughout the Russian empire. Jewish immigrants continued to arrive in the city from Romania, Russia, and throughout the Austro-Hungarian empire.

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Latke Patacones Are as Untraditional—& Outstanding—as They Sound

I was first introduced to my favorite snack in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica—a small town outside of the capital, San José, where I went to graduate school. After class one day, I joined some friends and a professor for drinks and snacks at Zompopas, a no-f…

I was first introduced to my favorite snack in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica—a small town outside of the capital, San José, where I went to graduate school. After class one day, I joined some friends and a professor for drinks and snacks at Zompopas, a no-frills bar and restaurant where you shuffle around fold-out chairs and slide tables together for larger gatherings.

Before long, there was a plate of patacones in front of us to share, with a small bowl of refried black beans in the middle topped with crumbled fresh cheese. It was love at first crunch.

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A Vegetarian Pastitsio for When ‘You Don’t Eat No Meat’

“He don’t eat no meat? What do you mean he don’t eat no meat!?”

It’s a line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding that brings the engagement party to a halt. Horrified faces turn to the xénos (foreigner), Ian Miller. Aunt Voula looks at her niece, the bride-t…

“He don’t eat no meat? What do you mean he don’t eat no meat!?”

It’s a line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding that brings the engagement party to a halt. Horrified faces turn to the xénos (foreigner), Ian Miller. Aunt Voula looks at her niece, the bride-to-be Toula Portokalos, as if to telepathically chastise her: “How can you, a Greek, marry a vegetarian?” Then, the solution comes to Aunt Voula and she pats Ian on the arm. “That’s okay,” she smiles. “I make lamb.”

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The Comforting Fusion of Matzo Ball Ramen

I hustled into Shalom Japan in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on a stormy Friday night. It was dimly lit inside and had all the ambience of a casual Japanese ramen joint. Inside the bathroom, there was an enlarged photo of a Levy’s Jewish Rye ad from the ’60s…

I hustled into Shalom Japan in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on a stormy Friday night. It was dimly lit inside and had all the ambience of a casual Japanese ramen joint. Inside the bathroom, there was an enlarged photo of a Levy’s Jewish Rye ad from the ’60s, which read “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy's real Jewish Rye” in large black letters, with a picture of a Japanese boy dressed in a white shirt and red tie holding his sandwich next to an open bag of Levy’s Jewish Rye.

There was only a handful of tables. I grabbed a seat at the bar with an open view of the kitchen to my right. A native New Yorker I had met in Berlin happened to be in town at the same time and joined me. I saw chefs Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi busy at work and turned my attention to the menu, giving it a cursory glance. But we both already knew we were getting the matzo ball ramen soup. How could we not?

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