Text and photos by Meagan Delvecchio
The Sobremesa Festival descended upon Shepard Hall on Friday. The event—created by artist Alo Gorozpe and the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute, allowed students and faculty to revel in the traditions and cuisine of Mexico. Here’s what went on:
Rows of chairs lined up before a podium and screen as experts spoke about the changing landscape of Mexican cuisine and how it affects NYC’s food culture.
One of the program speakers, Steven Alvarez, joked about having to use Power Point to show the different types of mole sauces because “there’s more than just mole poblano.” Alvarez’s knowledge comes with authority. His presentation partly represented his class “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South” that he teaches in the University of Kentucky.
His ideas aligned with other professors such as Lehman College’s Alyshia Gálvez and University of Alabama’s Michael Innis-Jimenez. Both professors spoke about Mexico’s influence on the United State’s food scene focusing on how Mexicans shaped early Chicago and New York City’s restaurant business.
The second half of the room acted as a market. Vendors sold handmade items ranging from leather wallets, necklaces, to clothing. Long tables sat in the center of the space . Hydrangeas, candles, and patterned table cloths adorned each one. Children in lucha libre masks conducted their own wrestling matches as patrons munched on lunch and snacks.
The event centered on food. The relationship between culture and cuisine, known as gastronomy, came alive within the festival. Daniel Montellano, of La Newyorkina Mexican Ice, spoke of his experience at the fest: “Mexico needs this [exposure]. It has more to offer than guacamole and tacos.”
Mexico thrived within the walls of the great hall. As people chatted around the tables sipping café de olla or aguas frescas they tasted bits of home. Marisse of La Brooklynita, a tortilla business currently looking for distribution, wants people to love the pieces of her hometown. “When we sell our food we want people to learn about local places, about Monterrey.”
City College embraced its cultural diversity thanks in part to its fellow CUNY and all the people that participated. For more information on some of the vendors involved please follow the links below: