Two years ago, in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Interlink Publishing released Soup for Syria, and donated all profits from the sale of the book to fund food relief efforts for the refugees. The book sparked Interlink’s charity cookbook initiative, and in December, the publisher will release the latest—The Immigrant Cookbook, with a minimum of $5 from the sale of each book going toward the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
In a divisive political climate, particularly surrounding immigration, Interlink “wanted to honor the wealth that cultural diversity brings our society,” said Leyla Moushabeck, editor of the book and associate publisher at Interlink.
“Almost all of the foods we traditionally think of as American can trace their origins to an immigrant, and in practical terms, the issue of immigration is inextricably linked to the food industry in this country,” said Moushabeck, pointing to the immigrant population that makes up the labor force in food-production factories, grocery stores, and restaurants. “A cookbook felt like a natural way to honor this contribution.”
The recipes, representing about 60 different countries of origin, include Daniel Boulud’s French Lyonnaise Salad with Lardons, Aarón Sánchez’s Carnitas Tacos from Mexico, Curtis Stone’s Australian Pavlova with Coconut Cream and Tropical Fruit, and Tsiona Bellete’s Doro Wot, an Ethopian chicken stew. “It was no great challenge to find immigrants working with food in interesting ways,” said Moushabeck, adding that “ultimately this is a cookbook about the many facets of American cuisine.”
The book, which has a 25,000 copy first announcing printing, is getting an “aggressive” social media campaign, according to Moushabeck. Interlink is also working with independent booksellers to promote the book, and several of the contributors will do events in their restaurants.
Despite the book’s charged subject matter, and its subtitle, Recipes That Make America Great, which plays off of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan (“We couldn’t resist,” said Moushabeck), the editor does not view The Immigrant Cookbook as political.
“The meeting of cultures can make for the most interesting foods, and the recipes in this book are fantastic,” said Moushabeck. “I hope people will treasure the book, bring something unfamiliar into their own kitchens, and perhaps gain some insight into the places and experiences behind these dishes. Food is a wonderful way to inspire cultural understanding.”