During the Depression, the Colombosians, an Armenian family, began bottling and selling the yogurt they made on their small Massachusetts dairy farm. They labeled their bottles “Colombo” because nobody could pronounce their name. The Colombo story, the journey of ethnic food from exotic product to everyday item, has become legendary. The World on a Plate tells the story of the Colombosians and other immigrant families who have changed and influenced our food and created a uniquely American culinary pastiche. Joel Denker, a longtime food and travel writer and scholar of American folklore, has conducted fascinating interviews with a range of ethnic-food merchants, crafting a history of our colorful food makers – the grocers, vendors, manufacturers, importers, restaurateurs – and the products they have given us.
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Joel Denker, who teaches American history at George Washington University, is the co-author of No Particular Place to Go: The Making of a Free High School and the author of Capital Flavors: Exploring Washington’s Ethnic Restaurants. He has written about ethnic food for the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Washingtonian magazine. He also writes a column, “Food in the ’Hood,” for the Washington, DC newspaper, The InTowner, which follows the ethnic foodways of the city. He has taught at a variety of institutions, among them Rutgers University, SUNY-Old Westbury, the University of Essex (England), and the Kurasini International School, a refugee school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
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