Feed me or Else

In my freelance writing life I do occasional work for a company that provides food concessions at big venues—stadiums, convention centers, places like that.

The company’s hoping to land a contract at Ellis Island, the New York landmark that was the point of entry for generations of immigrants and is now a national park.

I’m helping write their proposal, and that’s requiring a lot of research into oral histories and other documentation at the national archives. I’m trying to get a flavor, if you will, of the kinds of foods introduced to the American palate via Ellis Island, as well as immigrant impressions of unfamiliar foods they encountered when they came to our shore.

It’s fascinating stuff.

It also seems to have a lot of bearing on what I hope to do with these IFeed posts.

Think of this blog as the Idea Festival’s Ellis Island. It’s the portal for many who want to learn more about the festival and be part of it. If you look down the page you can see we’ve got tools for learning just where they are when they make contact. The clustermap shows we’re getting hits from all over the world. In the last few hours alone the site has been accessed by people in Romania, Britain, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

Welcome virtual immigrants. And please, tell me your food stories. I’d like to know what you eat, when you eat, how you prepare what you eat, and what it means to you. I’m hoping others are as interested as I am, and that the exchange will generate ideas for food offerings at the festival, cookbooks, and a standing, expanding, Idea Festival world food archive.

The Statue of Liberty stands near Ellis Island, of course, and in the famous Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on a plaque inside it, she exhorts the world to, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

I’m asking you to give me your tiramisu, your pork, your coddled mussels yearning for a bed of frisee...

Only you can stop me from producing more bad parody. Respond today, and give me something else to chew on.