Have I told you what your food means to me?

I was thinking about what I could write here to contribute to We Heart Astoria’s Blog Carnival.  A review of a favorite dish? A profile of a restaurant or shop owner? A food crawl through some of my best-loved spots?  But what I feel most compelled to write about, Astoria, is what your food means to me.

As a neighborhood, you captured my imagination two years ago during a difficult personal time.  It was your beautiful and boundless diversity, your alternately bustling and soothingly quiet blocks, your wild yards with fig trees and table grapes, your weird public space governed by a just goddess, but most of all your amazing food that made me feel like I was home.

Astoria, I grew up in a little town in central New Jersey, and some parallels could surely be drawn between you and my hometown, but that is not what I am trying to say.  I come from a warm, loving, strong-willed, eccentric family who gave me my love of food and they would feel at home with you. This is closer to what I am trying to say but still not precisely right.

What I am trying to say to you is this, Astoria. We have come to you from every place and under every circumstance. We eat the food we remember from our families and from the families of others. Our hearts fill up with memories, some not even our own! Great aunts and grandmothers, dough and bread, fathers and mothers, seeds and spices, towns we can’t go back to and countries that no longer exist. Our hearts fill up and this is when we know we are home.

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