YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City is a multi-year project aimed at studying and supporting thirteen locally-based first and second generation immigrant-owned restaurants in Somerville, Massachusetts. Initially the project was conceived of by faculty and students in the Seminar “Anthropology in Action: Fieldwork Methods for the 21st Century” (fall 2008) as a local mapping and graphic design project aimed at identifying local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) key in the public cultural and economic life of Somerville during the recession. Through its partnership with The Welcome Project (a Somerville immigration advocacy and operational organization) and the School for Museum of Fine Arts, YUM has since evolved into a cultural and economic revitalization project which seeks not just to raise the visibility of these restaurants and to document their rich social, historical and economic contributions to the city and region, but ultimately to expand their clientele so that they might better survive the financial downturn that has threatened so many of our region’s SMEs.
Who is Involved?
While the Welcome Project (it employees, volunteers, and affiliates) actively market the 1,500 YUM restaurant discount cards that have been created as part of this broader project, Tufts faculty and students will continue to document through photographs, archival material, interviews, print and electronic reviews the diverse histories of these businesses and of the people who created them and run them today. Addressing and responding to the needs of small and medium sized immigrant owned businesses during one of the worst regional and national recessions in the last 70 years has been extremely challenging and has required the skills and support of numerous organizations, institutions, centers and funds over the years. They include, but are not limited to, The Welcome Project (Somerville), the School for Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The Craft Center (Tufts, Lewis Hall), Exposure (Tufts), Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service (Tufts), Learn and Serve America Higher Education Program (A Program of the Corporation for National and Community Service), and our thirteen business partners and the communities they serve: Amelia’s Kitchen (Italian); Café Belô (Brazilian, both 120 Washington St. and 445 Somerville Ave locations); Fasika (Ethiopian), Highland Creole Cuisine (Haitian), House of Tibet Kitchen (Tibetian), Maya Sol (Mexican), Namaskar (Indian), Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery (Portuguese), Ronnarong Thai Tapas Bar (Thai), Sabur (Mediterannean), Restaurante Turístico Machu Picchu (Peruvian), Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill (Peruvian).